According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were over 625,000 businesses in Texas in 2021, and many of those businesses have trade secrets. If you own a business, you know that trade secrets can be one of your most valuable assets. They can provide you with a competitive edge and can include anything from a unique process to a proprietary recipe.
If others gain unauthorized access to these secrets, your business could suffer, so it is important to know what to do if someone steals your trade secrets.
What does Texas law consider a trade secret?
A trade secret refers to any information that gives your business a competitive advantage because you keep it confidential. This information could be a formula, a customer list, a manufacturing process or any other business information that remains valuable because others do not know about it.
In what ways does trade secret theft occur?
Several situations can lead to trade secret theft. One instance is when an employee leaves your business, takes confidential information and uses it in a new job. Another instance is when someone hacks your business’s computer systems and accesses confidential information.
What results from trade secret theft?
Trade secret theft can cause severe consequences for your business. These can include a loss of competitive advantage, a loss of customers and financial losses. Texas law can also impose civil penalties on the person or entity that carried out the theft. The offender can face fines of up to $10,000 and spend two to ten years in prison.
How can you safeguard your trade secrets?
To protect your trade secrets, consider taking several steps. Using non-disclosure agreements with your employees and business partners can help. Implementing security measures like password protection and restricted access to sensitive information can also bolster your defenses.
What steps can you take if someone steals your trade secrets?
If you suspect theft of your trade secrets, acting quickly is vital. You can request a court injunction to halt further use or disclosure of the trade secret. Additionally, you can file a civil lawsuit for damages against the person or entity that stole the secrets.
Understanding trade secret theft can better prepare you to protect your Texas business. If theft does occur, understanding your options will help you react effectively.