Trade Secret Litigation

Wyatt lawyers have decades of experience in helping industrial, educational, research, and other clients successfully create and protect trade secret assets, and defend against unfounded claims of theft.

Intellectual property being the principal “new economy” asset, clients have heightened need for its protection against theft or misuse by competitors and others.  In today’s world, businesses and institutions are pursuing vastly wider avenues of research and development, in relatively new areas like biotechnology, computer software, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and other internet applications.  Many processes and methods – ways of doing business – are not patentable and do not fall within other traditional IP doctrines.  But they do qualify beautifully as trade secrets.

While trade secrets are documented, they ultimately come from and reside in the heads of employees, contracted consultants, and like.  Employers must be certain they have legal ownership of their trade secrets, and that they take required precautions to preserve the secrecy.  With the tremendous increase in employee mobility seen in the last two decades, compounded by reductions in force during economic difficulties, there has been a steady increase in trade secret theft claims, some meritorious and some not.

Employee mobility has built another phenomenon in trade secret litigation – the notion of the “infectious” new hire.  An increasing amount of litigation entails former employers claiming that resigning or terminated personnel have carried trade secrets into the new employer’s environment.  Such claims often accompany non-compete and confidentiality agreement issues.  In this environment, vetting job applicants for exposure to prior employer trade secrets, and investigating non-compete and similar agreements, are more critical than ever.  It may be too late to avoid litigation exposure, and the new employer may have to shut down accused operations or products, if personnel start work before such due diligence is conducted.

These insights illustrate the vast array of trade secret litigations our trial lawyers have conducted and are handling, for clients in every conceivable industry.  Because lawyers on our team regularly deal with both the creation and subject matter of intellectual property in scientific and other substantive fields, and the trial and dispute resolution process, we bring a synergistic pool of talent to the task.  Clients are not confronted with the dilemmas of patent lawyers unfamiliar with the courtroom, or litigators unfamiliar with IP subject matter.