Nashville Attorney Autumn Gentry recently wrote “3 Steps to Protect Trade Secrets Under the DTSA,” for Inside Counsel.
The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which went into effect last year, was a breath of fresh air for many companies that rely on trade secrets as part of their business model.
Under the DTSA, a business’s or individual’s trade secrets — such as copyrights, patents and trademarks — are federally protected. This federal protection allows a business to file a private civil lawsuit if a trade secret that is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce is misappropriated.
Prior to the DTSA, trade secrets law was a state issue, and most states adopted some version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) to protect their local businesses. However, the interpretation of these laws varied greatly from state to state.
The DTSA adopts many provisions from the UTSA, such as injunctive relief to prevent actual or threatened misappropriation; actual damages; and exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees for willful and malicious misappropriate.
However, unlike the UTSA, the DSTA also:
- Provides businesses access to federal courts, regardless of the amount in controversy;
- Permits ex parte seizures where injunctive relief is clearly shown to be inadequate;
- Grants whistleblowers who disclose trade secrets to the government immunity from civil and criminal liability in certain situations;
- Mandates that notice about whistleblower immunity be included in any new or updated employment agreement that governs the use of a trade secret or other confidential information.
In order to be protected by the DTSA, businesses or individuals must demonstrate that they have taken steps to keep their trade secrets private.
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Autumn Gentry is an attorney with the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright, PLLC. She focuses her practice in commercial law and litigation. Autumn can be reached at 615-620-1755 .