A recent law review article purports to be the first statistical analysis of trade-secret litigation in federal court. See David S. Almeling et al., “A Statistical Analysis of Trade Secret Litigation in Federal Courts,” Gonzaga Law Review, Vol. 45:2, p. 291-334. The article is worth reading because it includes some interesting empirical information about trade-secret information.

The authors of the article reviewed judicial opinions for nearly 400 cases that were decided between the years of 1950-2008. Some of the key findings include: (1) trade-secret misappropriation cases have been growing exponentially over that time period; (2) the person or persons accused of misappropriation was either a co-owner or an employee of the party who asserts the trade-secret misappropriation claim; and (3) the party who was accused of misappropriation and who moved for summary judgment usually prevailed in over 50% of such motions. The last finding was surprising because a party moving for summary judgment has a significant burden to overcome.

Finally, the article suggests that confidentiality agreements may play a significant role in proving that a trade-secret owner has taken reasonable measures to protect its trade secrets. Such agreements can include confidentiality agreements between the trade-secret owner and its business partners, employees or third parties. Accordingly, a prospective trade-secret owner should expend effort in making sure that adequate agreements are in place to protect such secrets.