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Has a former employee taken your trade secrets?

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2024 | Business And Commercial Litigation

You might get upset if someone leaves your company and goes to a rival, or sets up in the same line themselves. You might consider they have stolen your trade secrets.

Firstly, it is important to look at this rationally. It is easy to get upset when someone you put time and money into training, or someone who you thought was loyal to your company, leaves. While they will almost certainly know a lot about your company it does not necessarily mean they have stolen trade secrets from you.

Not everything is a trade secret

Before you make accusations, you need to understand exactly how the law defines a trade secret. You’ll have to show three things are true:

1. Only a few people had the information

Something that anyone could learn on the internet is not a trade secret. Nor is something that vast swathes of your present or past employees knew. For a piece of information to be considered a trade secret, only a few people can have had access to it.

2. You took steps to keep the information secret

If you left the information up on the whiteboard where anyone could see it, you might struggle to prove your case. If you kept it in a password-protected place on the company’s data system and shredded any physical copies and made those with access sign confidentiality agreements, your case will be stronger as you can show you took steps to keep others from getting hold of that information.

3. The secrecy makes it valuable

Is this the secret recipe you have founded your whole burger relish empire on? Or is it just the recipe for the relish you serve when grilling burgers for your employees at the annual staff event? You’ll need to show that the secret getting out could damage you financially.

If you believe you have a case, seek legal guidance to understand your options.