Florida law has specific legal mechanisms to defend trade secret owners against theft and misappropriation. If a current or former employee of a company within state jurisdiction misappropriates a trade secret, the legitimate owner is entitled to the appropriate remedies.
Keep reading to find out what you need to know if someone misappropriates your trade secrets in Florida.
Florida Trade Secrets Misappropriation – As Provided by Law
In 1988, the Florida legislature decided to adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), a federal act created in 1979 to set a uniform standard for trade secret laws nationwide.
Florida Statutes Chapter 688 encompasses the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act (FUTSA), a slightly modified version of the federal legislation. Under Florida Statutes §688.002 (2), the act of misappropriating a trade secret refers to the:
- “Acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means, or
- Disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret; or
- At the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that her or his knowledge of the trade secret was:
- Derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it
- Acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use
- Derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain its secrecy or limit its use, or
- Before a material change of her or his position, knew or had reason to know that it was a trade secret and that knowledge of it had been acquired by accident or mistake”
Florida Theft of Trade Secrets – Legal Remedies
Under FUTSA, if the owner of trade secrets is a victim of misappropriation in Florida, the legal remedies available include injunctive relief, damages, and potentially attorney’s fees.
An employer may file for an injunction in court if an employee commits or threatens a misappropriation of trade secrets.
As provided by Florida Statutes §688.003 (1), “upon application to the court, an injunction shall be terminated when the trade secret has ceased to exist, but the injunction may be continued for an additional reasonable period of time in order to eliminate commercial advantage that otherwise would be derived from the misappropriation.”
If the result of the misappropriation of a trade secret was an actual loss to the employer, he or she may file for damages in court. Employers may also file to recover damages incurred by the unjust enrichment caused by the misappropriation.
If applicable, the court may order the “imposition of liability for a reasonable royalty for a misappropriator’s unauthorized disclosure or use of a trade secret.” (Fla. Stat. §688.004 (1)).
If the misappropriation occurred as the result of willful or malicious behavior from the employee or the employee files a motion in bad faith to terminate the injunction, the employer is entitled to attorney’s fees upon prevailing in court. (Fla. Stat. § 688.005)