Virginia Trade Secret Protection
Trade Secrets are also usually protected under state law and differ slightly among each state. For example, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chapter 26 of the Virginia Code, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, grants state protection over Virginia Trade Secrets and defines Trade Secrets to include information, including but not limited to, a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:
- 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
- Is the subject of reasonable efforts under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
It is imperative to consult an attorney about Trade Secret rights as not taking the correct precautionary steps in protecting a Trade Secret may and can relatively easily result in the loss of protection. This may mean not simply the loss of any derived compensation of the Trade Secret but also the loss of any intellectual property rights in general.
Federal Trade Secret Protection
Trade Secrets are federally protected under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, specifically, Title 18, Chapter 90. The act defines Trade Secrets to include all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information. This is including patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes, whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing if:
- The owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret; and
- The information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by the public.
Trade Secret Misappropriation
Theft or misappropriation of a Trade Secret and the remedies the law allows are precisely defined and protected under federal and state law.
Federal Laws Protecting Against the Theft of an Idea
Trade Secrets are federally protected under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, specifically Title 18, Chapter 90, which punishes the theft of a Trade Secret and defines such theft as whoever, with intent to convert a trade secret, that is related to or included in a product that is produced for or placed in interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof, and intending or knowing that the offense will, injure any owner of that trade secret, knowingly:
- Steals, or without authorization appropriates, takes, carries away, or conceals, or by fraud, artifice, or deception obtains such information;
- Without authorization copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys such information;
- Receives, buys, or possesses such information, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization;
- Attempts to commit any offense described in paragraphs (1) through (3); or
- Conspires with one or more other persons to commit any offense described in sections (1) through (3), and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, shall, except as provided in subsection (b), be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
Furthermore, any organization that commits any offense described in subsection (a) shall be fined not more than $5,000,000.