The next three blog entries will address trade secrets.

Almost all states within the United States, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have adopted a set of trade-secret laws known as the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”). Pennsylvania, the state in which I am licensed to practice law, adopted the UTSA on April 19, 2004. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Texas have not adopted the UTSA.

The UTSA defines trade secrets in a broad manner. The UTSA provides various remedies for trade-secret misappropriation. These remedies are essentially uniform among the states that adopted the UTSA. Trade secrets to include:
  • Formulas
  • Drawings
  • Patterns
  • Compilations (i.e. customer lists)
  • Programs
  • Devices
  • Methods
  • Techniques
  • Processes
Pennsylvania utilizes a two-part test to determine whether an alleged trade secret is actually a trade secret. A trade secret must: (1) derive independent economic value; and (2) be protected by reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy. The UTSA uses the same two-part test.

Trade secrets may be protected through employee agreements and third-party agreements. Trade secrets may also be protected by common-sense methods such as computer security, labeling sensitive documents “confidential,” other proprietary labels and excluding the public from sensitive areas of the workplace.

For a more extensive discussion on the steps an employer can take to protect its trade secrets, see Eric Amdursky and Mark W. Robertson, “Protecting Trade Secrets When Employees Depart," originally published on Sept. 18, 2009, at www.law360.com and downloaded http://www.omm.com/files/upload/ProtectingTradeSecretsWhenEmployeesDepart-AmdurskyRobertson.pdf on Oct. 12, 2009.