In Missouri, businesses may be able to seek damages against someone who misappropriates their trade secrets.
If you have access to your employer’s sensitive data, here is what you need to know about what constitutes a trade secret.
Does the secret have lasting value?
A trade secret is a piece of information that provides an enduring economic benefit from not being generally known or easily obtained. This could include data, methods, code, processes, recipes or devices.
Courts have found that a trade secret must have lasting economic worth and be in continual use by the business. For example, fleeting information, like a date for the release of a new product, is not a trade secret because once that date passes the knowledge loses its value. However, the recipe for the company’s signature product does provide perpetual economic benefit to its owner.
Is it easily obtained?
Data, methods or formulas that are generally known in an industry or easily obtained by people in that industry are not considered trade secrets. For example, if you can compile a customer list from other sources, it does not meet the requirements. Additionally, any commonly-used processes in an industry qualify as generally known even if the wider public does not have the information.
Does the owner protect the information?
For the owner of sensitive assets to prove misappropriation, they must demonstrate that they took reasonable measures to protect the secret. Such steps could include:
- Requiring confidentiality agreements
- Labeling data as confidential
- Restricting employee access
- Providing physical protection
If your employer pursues you for misappropriating a trade secret, a strong defense can help to ensure the best outcome.