When a company has intangible assets that distinguish its products/services from competitors, it is crucial to protect them. While patents may apply in several cases, there are manufacturing methods, ingredients, and components that are not patented.
In such cases, these distinctive factors that help to make a company special are designated as “trade secrets.” In this article, you will have a full overview of trade secret law in Florida.
What is a Trade Secret? – Understanding the Concept
In essence, the term “trade secret” refers to a company’s secret information that gives its owner(s) a business edge over competitors by not being known to nobody else. Plus, a proper trade secret must involve an effort to maintain its secrecy, or it ceases to be considered secret.
Trade secrets are part of popular culture, especially those associated with popular global brands. Some examples include Coca-Cola’s secret formula, KFC’s secret fried chicken recipe, or the formula behind the famous WD-40 household lubricant.
In legal terms, three elements define a trade secret – the secrecy of the information, the competitive advantage granted by the information, and the effort applied to keep the secrecy of such information.
Trade Secret Law in Florida – In Detail
In the United States, each state has its own legislation to govern trade secrets. Still, most states have adopted a slightly modified version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). Enacted in 1979 and amended in 1985, this federal law aims to make state trade secret laws uniform.
Largely similar to the federal UTSA, the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Florida Statutes §688) encompasses the legislation regarding trade secrets in Florida. Likewise, the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act (FUTSA) prohibits any misappropriation of trade secrets.
As provided by Florida Statutes §688.002 (2), the term “misappropriation” 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.”
Additionally, the same section provides that the “disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person” who somehow knew the information is considered misappropriation.
Trade Secret Law in Florida – Remedies and Statute of Limitations
Like the Uniform Trade Secret Act, the FUTSA provides a set of remedies for cases involving misappropriation of trade secrets. It is worth noting that state law may impose criminal penalties for trade secret misappropriation.
If a court considers that a defendant has incurred misappropriation of a plaintiff’s trade secrets, it may impose remedies such as injunctive relief, monetary damages, and attorneys’ fees. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for misappropriation of trade secret is three years.
By ordering injunctive relief, the court can order a defendant to cease the violation of the plaintiff’s rights and take the necessary steps to maintain the secrecy of the information.
If the misappropriation has caused a plaintiff some level of economic harm, the court may order the defendant to pay money to compensate the injured party (including the plaintiff’s losses incurred by the defendant’s actions and the defendant’s profits derived from the misappropriation).
Ultimately, if the plaintiff is successful in court, the court may award attorney’s fees if the defendant’s actions were either willful or malicious.
We Can Help You Protect Your Intellectual Property – Work with Attorney Romy B. Jurado Today
Protecting trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks requires an expert approach. Waste no time with uncertainty – call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or email Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.