We live in an ultra-competitive business climate. Most businesses rely on the talents of extraordinary individuals. Employees are often valued as a company’s greatest asset – that is, until they leave to join a competitor or start their own firm. There is no doubt they have information in their brains related to their former employer’s business. But, is it a trade secret? You need a South Carolina Trade Secrets Attorney, and it helps if you have one who has actually tried a trade secrets case in court. The litigation team at the Law Office of W. Andrew Arnold fits the bill. We represent employees, entrepreneurs and small businesses who need lawyers with South Carolina Trade Secrets experience.
What Is a Trade Secret?
Known as the South Carolina Trade Secrets Act, Chapter 8 of Title 39 of the state’s code of laws outlines the SC law as it applies to trade secrets. According to this section of the state’s code, a trade secret has two definitions. Trade secrets can be “information including, but not limited to, a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, product, system, or process, design, prototype, procedure, or code” that has independent economic value because it is not readily available to the public and that “is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
In more basic terms, a trade secret is confidential or proprietary information of a company or individual. If this information is shared outside of the scope of employment with that company, it can bring economic gain to another individual or company at the detriment of the originating company.
Damages for Disclosure of Trade Secrets
If a court determines that an individual or individuals wrongfully disclosed, misappropriated, or wrongfully used trade secrets, the complainant could be eligible to receive damages, which could include the actual loss acquired or the profit gained by the disclosure of the trade secrets. Further, if the court finds that the defendant willfully, wantonly, or recklessly disregarded the plaintiff’s rights, then liquidated damages equal to twice actual damages may also be awarded. The court may also give an award of attorney’s fees.
Trade Secrets and Non-Compete Agreements
Many companies will incorporate non-disclosure and non-compete agreements into their contracts with employees to protect their trade secrets as well as other “Confidential Information.” But is it a trade secret? Is it protectable under contract or statute? Or is the non-disclosure a backdoor non-compete? Properly written non-compete agreements is one way businesses protect trade secrets. However, if a company tries to enforce an overly broad non-compete agreement or if it considers what is common industry knowledge as a trade secret, the employee may be able to beat the non-compete agreement.
South Carolina Trade Secret Attorney Andy Arnold
Greenville litigator Andy Arnold has defended claims for injunctive relief involving trade secrets and non-compete agreements. Many times these claims could result in a restraining order preventing you from working. Call 864-242-4800 for an initial consultation and review of your matter.