What to do with trade secrets in a lawsuit

Most business owners don’t want to imagine this scenario, but what happens when an employee leaves the company with unauthorized trade secrets and uses them (or is about to use them) to benefit themselves or another company? Indeed, you would want to prevent the disclosure (or use) of such information as quickly as possible by taking swift action in court.

But before you obtain a temporary injunction, you may be required to disclose to the court the secrets you are trying to protect. After all, federal law requires plaintiffs to disclose them with “a reasonable degree of specificity and precision” in order to properly separate them from other terms that can be disclosed.  How can this be done without bearing important secrets?

The proper method for disclosing them is to do so under a protective order. This means that the information is not considered to be public record and may not be disclosed. There are essentially three tiers of “confidentiality” applicable:

Confidential – Where the information may be shared with all parties involved in the litigation, including witnesses, experts, and legal counsel.

Attorneys and client representatives – This intermediate level of protection allows only one or a few client representatives, agreed to by the parties in advance, to access to the information.

Attorney’s eyes only – This is the most restrictive designation, only allowing counsel and legal staff to review the information. No information may be disclosed to anyone associated with the individual parties.

In either scenario, it is essential to have an experienced business litigation attorney to carefully draft a comprehensive protective order to defend your interests. 

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