Companies often spend vast resources and time developing methods, plans, and techniques and gathering data to further their businesses. Such information is typically proprietary, and companies will go to great lengths to ensure that it remains confidential, as its disclosure could negatively impact a business’s operations. Despite efforts to protect trade secrets, though, they are often misappropriated. Fortunately, there are measures people and entities who have been harmed by the misuse of classified information can take to safeguard their interests. If you need assistance with a dispute involving trade secrets, you should speak to an attorney. The assertive Atlanta lawyers of Poole Huffman can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome available. We regularly help parties protect trade secrets in Atlanta, Decatur, and Tucker.Georgia’s Trade Secret Law
The Georgia Trade Secrets Act of 1990 (GUTSA), which is largely the same as the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, bars the misappropriation of trade secrets and provides remedies for parties whose rights have been violated. Under GUTSA, misappropriation is defined as the acquisition of a trade secret by a person who has actual or constructive knowledge that it was obtained via improper means. Use or disclosure of a trade secret without consent by a person who employed improper means to acquire it, or knew or should have known it was derived via improper means or under circumstances that gave rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy constitutes misappropriation as well. Improper means include espionage, bribery, theft, misrepresentation, and inducement or breach of a confidential relationship.
GUTSA broadly defines a trade secret as information that is not commonly known by or available to the public, that derives economic value from not being generally known or easily ascertained by other parties and is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. Information includes but is not limited to formulas, programs, technical and nontechnical data, patterns, as well as lists of potential and actual customers and suppliers.Remedies for Trade Secret Misappropriation
The court may order an injunction to stop the threatened or actual misappropriation of a trade secret. Upon application to the court, an injunction may be terminated when the trade secret no longer exists. If the court determines that it would be unreasonable to prohibit future use, an injunction may condition future use upon payment of a reasonable royalty. Such conditions are only imposed in exceptional circumstances, such as when a defendant materially and prejudicially changes its position before learning of the misappropriation, if such a change renders a prohibitive injunction inequitable.
A plaintiff that demonstrates a defendant misappropriated a trade secret may be granted monetary damages for the economic harm sustained due to the violation of the trade secret. This may include compensation for the losses the plaintiff suffered due to the misappropriation as well as the profits the defendant obtained via its use. In cases where the court finds the defendant acted with malicious or willful intent, the plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages up to twice the amount of compensatory damages.
Additionally, a plaintiff that shows a defendant’s misappropriation was malicious and willful may be awarded attorneys’ fees. If the jury or judge finds in favor of the defendant, though, and the court determines the plaintiff filed suit in bad faith, the defendant may be granted attorneys’ fees. Attorneys’ fees may also be awarded if a motion to terminate an injunction is resisted or made in bad faith.Speak to an Experienced Atlanta Business Litigation Attorney
Trade secrets are valuable assets, and when they are misappropriated, the ramifications can be devastating. If you need assistance with a matter involving a trade secret, it is prudent to seek the advice of an attorney. The experienced Atlanta lawyers of Poole Huffman are skilled at helping people and businesses fight to protect their rights, and if you engage our services, we will zealously advocate on your behalf. We regularly represent parties in lawsuits in Atlanta and Decatur and in Tucker, where our office is located. We also aid parties with civil disputes in cities throughout DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties. You can reach us at 404-373-4008 or through our form online to set up a confidential consultation.