Overview

Trade secrets can be a company's most valuable intellectual property right. At Stinson, we help our clients create and execute individualized trade secret protection programs that identify company trade secrets, protect these trade secrets, and place the company in a strong position to reduce unauthorized use and disclosure.

Under the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and the law of most states, trade secrets can include information, processes or devices having commercial value that are treated as confidential and are not known or disclosed to the public. Business plans, chemical formulations and even client lists may be eligible for trade secret protection. Whatever your trade secret, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to protect this valuable company asset. In particular, our attorneys have significant experience in the following areas:

Trade Secrets Identification

Our attorneys counsel clients about how to protect their confidential information, ideas and property, such as trade secrets, in addition to other forms of intellectual property protection (i.e., patents, trademarks and copyrights). There can be advantages to trade secret protection versus patent protection insofar as trade secrets can be maintained indefinitely while patents are enforceable for a limited period of time. In addition, trade secret laws can protect valuable business secrets, such as customer lists, that are not patentable. Moreover, sometimes trade secrets and patents can be used in tandem to protect different aspects of a company's business.

Trade Secrets Programs

Trade secrets must remain "secret." Therefore, our attorneys counsel clients on the development of comprehensive trade secret protection programs, which involve various agreements such as:

  • Confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements
  • Non-compete agreements
  • Employment agreements
  • Consulting agreements
  • Invention development agreements
  • Manufacturing agreements
  • Licensing agreements

In addition, we help our clients develop and implement other strategies to better protect their trade secrets. These include:

  • Seminars to employees regarding identification and protection of trade secrets
  • Labels or proprietary legends on documents containing trade secrets
  • Document retention and cybersecurity policies
  • Facility security
  • Computer network security
  • Hacking/data breach risk management
  • Company policy manuals on confidentiality
  • Sign-out and sign-in procedures
  • Exit interviews for departing employees
  • Contract compliance with Defend Trade Secrets Act notice requirements

Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims

In many instances, our attorneys assist clients in avoiding claims of unlawful use or misappropriation of the trade secrets of competitors. We can review a potential employee's agreements with his or her former employer to evaluate the trade secrets of former employers. This is especially important for our start-up and venture capital clients.

Trade Secret Litigation

Make no secret about it, our attorneys are well-versed in trade secret misappropriation claims. Representing both plaintiffs and defendants, our attorneys have litigated trade secrets cases involving devices ranging from braking mechanisms to food chemistry methods to the "Pop-A-Shot" basketball game to proprietary software.

Experience

Our trade secret litigation attorneys have decades of experience representing clients on a variety of matters including:

Obtained a multimillion dollar settlement for our agribusiness client on patent and trade secret enforcement action. Following the settlement, we also negotiated an ongoing, international business relationship agreement between our client and the adversary.

Represented Hallmark Cards Inc. before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed a $31.3 million jury verdict in favor of Hallmark in a trade secret dispute against Monitor Clipper Partners LLC, a private equity firm.

Secured an $8 million settlement for our client on a patent and trade secret enforcement action against a well-known global company.


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Team

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