Intellectual property theft can come in many forms, and one of them is trade secret theft. In short, trade secrets are any part of your organization that derives value from privacy. It could be specific processes, information about your supply chain, or some of the advertising methods you use. While these trade secrets are not copyrighted, they should still be protected, and if someone steals them and uses them for profit or sabotage, then you have the right to sue. Let’s take a look at what you should do if you suspect someone of stealing trade secrets.
Know if You’re Actually a Victim
The first thing you have to do is make sure that you are a victim of a theft of trade secrets in the first place. People using information from your business to start their own, even if there are some striking similarities, do not qualify as trade secrets. For instance, if someone who worked at KFC started a business that was inspired by their recipe and even had almost the same menu with different names, then this wouldn’t qualify as a trade secret. If they somehow found a way to steal the list of ingredients for the chicken and make it using the same cooking methods, on the other hand, then they would be stealing trade secrets.
If they didn’t do this, but instead used roughly the same logo, name, and/or color schemes, then you would be dealing with intellectual property theft, but of another kind. This could be trademark or copyright law issues, but not trade secrets. So, this is something you’ll need to look over with a lawyer first.
Speak with an IP Lawyer
The next thing you have to do is consult with an intellectual property lawyer as soon as possible. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what kind of issue you’re dealing with, what recourses you may have, and some of the documentation you’ll need to gather. The most important step here is to work with a lawyer that has extensive experience working on these kinds of cases and has a solid track record to back it up.
One of the reasons why you must speak with a lawyer as soon as possible is because they can stop the use of your trade secrets before you take the case to court. This can be done through an injunction. This will provide what is referred to as “injunctive relief” which will reduce the damage suffered by the theft. This function could be either permanent or temporary depending on the circumstances.
Consider Patenting Some of Your Secrets
Now would also be a good time to consider patenting some of your trade secrets. Patenting means that these processes will be made public, but they will be much easier to protect. You’ll also have greater recourse in case someone steals them.
This is what you should do right away if you think someone in your organization has been stealing secrets. Take the time to look over the situation to make sure you have a case and consult a skilled team right away to guide you through what you need to do next.