Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets
As a successful business owner, you have to protect yourself. Unfair competition and trade secret issues can negatively affect the growth of your company. Laws in this area are very complex, which is why it is essential to seek the help of a legal professional who can help you understand your rights and options. At the Fort Lauderdale firm of Stok Folk + Kon, you will find dedicated commercial litigation attorneys who are familiar with unfair competition matters and have helped many clients protect their businesses.Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets
Unfair competition happens when a competing business engages in deceptive or fraudulent conduct that has the likelihood to create consumer confusion. This prohibited activity encompasses various types of commercial or business conduct, such as trademark and trade dress infringement, false advertising, dilution, and misappropriation of trade secrets. The policy behind the unfair competition doctrine is to protect consumers and competitors from deceptive conduct in business practices.File a Misappropriation Claim
Trades secrets typically comprise formulas, processes, unpatented inventions, confidential client lists, sensitive marketing information, and anything else that provides a company with an edge in its area. Something is more likely to be considered a trade secret if it is only known inside the company, only known by its employees of the company, is deemed confidential, is valuable to the business, and is difficult for others to acquire easily. Generally, trade secrets are protected by a nondisclosure agreement.
Florida is a state that has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which deals with misappropriation of this information. “Misappropriation” is defined as acquisition of a trade secret through improper means by an individual who understands that the information should not be disclosed. This includes theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach of duty, and more. For example, if a former employee reveals confidential client lists to a competing company, that employee will likely be considered to have misappropriated a trade secret.
Under Florida law, someone who misappropriates a trade secret does not have to have actual knowledge that the information was confidential. Instead, if a person has “reason to know” that the information should not be disclosed, that individual can be prosecuted. Essentially, a person can be liable if he or she should have known that the material constitutes a trade secret.
It is important to note that in trade secret litigation, the party seeking to protect the trade secret bears the burden of establishing the fact that the information is confidential and that it had taken reasonable steps to protect its secrecy. The question of whether certain information qualifies as a trade secret is ultimately a question of fact that may be determined by a jury at trial. For this reason alone, it is vital to seek the help of an experienced attorney who understands what it takes to establish the validity of your company’s trade secrets.
Every state has its own time limits within which these lawsuits must be filed. In Florida, an action for misappropriation of trade secrets must be filed within three years after it is discovered or should have been discovered.
When a judge finds that a business has engaged in unfair competition or that an individual has disclosed confidential information, the judge can issue an injunction prohibiting the business or individual from conducting that activity any further. The aggrieved party may also seek financial compensation for the losses that stemmed from the trade secret theft. In certain, limited instances, the judge may award punitive damages and attorney’s fees.Discuss Your Commercial Litigation Issue with an Fort Lauderdale Attorney
If you need the services of a business lawyer to resolve a matter in or around Fort Lauderdale, you should consider enlisting the professionals at Stok Folk + Kon. Our excellent reputation in the legal community stems from the fact that we genuinely care about our clients, their goals, and the outcome of their cases. If you are unsure about your legal rights and responsibilities, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney who can help you devise a sensible course of action. We proudly represent clients from Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, and throughout Florida. To learn more, please call us today at (954) 237-1777 or contact us online to set up a consultation.