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What steps should business owners take if trade secrets are misappropriated?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2021 | intellectual property & trade secrets

Even if business owners take steps to secure their trade secrets, it is still not uncommon for them to be misappropriated by either an existing competitor or perhaps by a former employee who wants to start his or her own competing business. Because maintaining the integrity of their trade secrets is crucial to a business’s success, misappropriation of those trade secrets could be devastating to the business.

This concern came center stage for business owners large and small when tech giant Apple filed a lawsuit against a former employee for stealing and leaking trade secrets. This is the worst-case scenario for many businesses, so it is important that they know how to move forward in this situation.


While it is important to act quickly when trade secrets are at risk, business owners must also act strategically – especially when it comes to filing a lawsuit. Therefore, the first thing a business owner should do is to immediately retain a reputable business litigation firm.

That firm will have a stable of experts experienced in building the case necessary to prevail in court by establishing two basic facts:

  1. Prove Measures Taken to Preserve Trade Secrets Were Adequate: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states that trade secret owners must take reasonable steps to keep the information a secret. Business owners should review their trade secret policies, as well as the implementation of those policies. If the business owner did not take reasonable measures, then businesses may not have grounds to recover damages.
  2. Calculate the losses suffered: Assuming measures to preserve their trade secrets were adequate, the business owner must then be able to demonstrate that their business would face significant damage due to the misappropriation of the trade secret. The law firm, in conjunction with the client and forensic expert calculate the losses suffered as a direct result of the misappropriation.

An experienced law firm can help a business both put in place appropriate legal safeguards, as well as discharge those intellectual property rights – through litigation if necessary – if those critical elements of your business are misappropriated.