Yes, material on the internet is protected from trade secret crimes. In order to receive protection from misappropriation and misuse, however, information must first qualify as a trade secret. The courts in each state will examine slightly different factors in deciding if something is a trade secret. Some of these factors might include:
- the extent to which the information is known outside of the business;
- the number of people within the company that are aware of the information;
- what steps the employer has taken to keep the information secret;
- the amount of money and effort spent developing the secret information; and
- how easy it would be for an outsider to learn of or copy the secret.
Do I Have Trade Secret Status?
You can seek relief any time a trade secret of yours has been exploited, however the internet has created new ways in which a product or piece of information might lose its status as a trade secret. The most common ways that something might lose its trade secret status include:
- Companies themselves post information on their website detailing a new product. They may no longer be able to protect information regarding a products design or features.
- Employees email confidential information to people outside of the company, intentionally or accidentally. Once sent out, this information may no longer be a trade secret.
- Companies websites are hacked into due to poor security and information that was once classified is no longer secret.
What Remedies Are Available If Someone Stole My Trade Secrets?
The remedies for violations of online trade secrets and confidential information are generally similar to those for any other type of trade secret misappropriation and might include:
- Monetary damages, either punitive or compensatory
- Injunctive relief, to stop the person from continuing to misappropriate your trade secrets
- Attorney's fees
Do I Need An Attorney For My Trade Secret Issue?
If someone else is using or exploiting your trade secret, an experienced intellectual property lawyer can help you preserve your rights and seek the relief you deserve.