President Obama has signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, creating new federal civil jurisdiction for misappropriation of trade secrets. The Act defines trade secrets broadly as something that the owner took reasonable measures to keep secret and which has economic value due to the secrecy. In addition to providing a new basis of jurisdiction, the Act also allows the government to seize any documents or other materials from the misappropriating party without notice. Intended to limit the spread of any trade secret upon the filing of a complaint, the seizure provision offers a powerful tool to parties whose trade secrets have been misappropriated. The new federal civil jurisdiction does not replace the previously-existing criminal or state jurisdictions, but runs in parallel, providing another alternative for those who wish to protect their trade secrets.
The legislation also provides whistleblower protection to employees, independent contractors and consultants who disclose trade secrets to report or investigate an alleged violation of law. RatnerPrestia initially reported on this legislation in its April 28, 2016 article “Congress Passes New Federal Trade Secret Act – Law Would Go Into Effect Immediately.”
RatnerPrestia attorneys are experienced in trade secret matters and stand ready to answer any questions or provide guidance regarding the new law.