TRADE SECRETS: WHAT ARE THEY?
More and more frequently, when one of our clients gets sued over the alleged breach of a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, the law firm representing the employer adds an allegation to the lawsuit claiming the employee “misappropriated trade secrets.” I thought I would share with our readers just what the heck is a “trade secret” under Virginia law.
The law in Virginia defines trade secrets as:
information, including but not limited to, a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:
1. Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and
2. Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
Most employers claim that price lists, customer lists, product information, sales documents are all trade secret. In reality, many of these types of documents are NOT trade secrets. If the information is available through other sources or has been publically disclosed…the information does not constitute a trade secret.