Trade Secret Misappropriation and Non-compete Covenant Litigation

Trade SecretThe Tran Law Firm represents clients in claims of trade secret misappropriation.  We advise clients on any issues concerning trade secret protection and take vigorous legal actions to enforce their rights.  The Tran Law Firm handles matters in Texas District courts, the U.S. District Courts as well as the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

A trade secret is generally defined as some type of information which is not known to the public and confers some form of economic benefit or value to its owners. Trade secrets can include comprise customer lists, financial data, sensitive marketing information, unpatended inventions, software, formulas and recipes, techniques, processes, and other business information that provides a company with a business edge. Trade secrets are protected by such security measures as non-disclosure agreements and non-compete agreements which incorporate stiff financial penalties for violations.  The owner must have taken reasonable measures to keep it secret and its secrecy must provide some economic value.

Texas trade secret misappropriation cases involve a number of laws including:

  • Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA);
  • the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Texas UTSA) goes into effect September 1, 2013;
  • the Economic Espionage Act of 1996;
  • Texas common law;
  • Texas Penal Code 31.05.

Litigation involving cases of trade secret theft may result in injunctions against violators, as well as damages, or an account of profits, wherein profits are recovered by the plaintiff that were the result of the wrongful action of the defendant.

Remedies we seek for trade secret misappropriation include:

  • temporary restraining order
  • injunction
  • reasonable royalty
  • loss attributed to the theft
  • profits
  • unjust enrichment
  • punitive damages
  • attorney’s fees

The statute of limitation for theft of trade secret requires that the action for misappropriation be brought within 3 years after the misappropriation is discovered or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered.

Non-compete Agreement Litigation

In general, an employer can restrict an employee’s post employment competition through a non-competition agreement (also referred to a as a covenant not to compete).   A non-competition agreement can restrict the employee from engaging in a competing business with the employer, in a certain geographic area, for a limited period of time following the termination of the employment relationship.

The non-competition agreement must be part of an enforceable agreement and reasonable in scope of the activity to be restrained.   As a rule the non-competition agreement must restrain no more activity than is necessary to protect the legitimate business interest of the employer.

Our firm consult with employees who are presented with a non-competition agreement and advise them on the impact that the covenant may have upon their future employment.  When necessary, we represent employees in court when the employer seeks to enforce the non-competition agreement.  We also represent subsequent employers defend against lawsuits filed by the previous employer who uses the non-competition agreement to stop key employees, skilled labor, and company founders from working for a competitor.