Trade Secret Litigation Attorney Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

Companies often rely on trade secrets as a basis for operating their business.

Probably the most famous trade secret of all time–one that is subject to as much myth as reality–is the formula behind Coca-Cola. It is said that the recipe is held in a vault in the corporation’s Atlanta headquarters and that only two people have the combination to open the vault.  

While this may be true or not, the fact that Coca-Cola would go to such great lengths to safeguard its formula underlies one of the principles in trade secret law. That the owner of the trade secret must exert reasonable–or better–efforts to protect the secret from getting into the hands of others is pretty much the universal standard for what gives a trade secret its legal status.  

Most states, including California, have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) as their own legislation to protect trade secrets. The UTSA was conceived and published by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 1979 and amended in 1985. California’s version of the UTSA is found in the Civil Code, Sections 3426 through 3426.11.  

Under the UTSA and the California Civil Code, obtaining a trade secret through “improper means” is known as “misappropriation,” not theft.  

If your business in or around the San Francisco Bay Area fears its trade secret has been misappropriated, or on the other hand, you are being accused of misappropriation, contact the business and commercial litigation attorney at the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC.   

Attorney David H. Schwartz is well-versed in trade secret law and litigation. He will help you pursue a lawsuit or defend you if you’re being sued. The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC also serves clients in San Jose, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Oakland, and throughout Alameda County. 

California Trade Secret Laws and Regulations 

Trade secrets are protected under both state and federal law. In California, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) provides the legal framework for protecting trade secrets.

The UTSA defines a trade secret as information that derives independent economic value from not being generally known and is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. 

Key Elements of Trade Secret Litigation and Steps Involved 

Trade secret litigation involves several critical steps: 

  1. Identification of trade secrets: Clearly define what constitutes a trade secret within the organization. This includes any confidential business information that provides a competitive edge. 

  1. Implementing protective measures: Ensure that all trade secrets are subject to reasonable efforts to maintain their secrecy. This can include non-disclosure agreements, restricted access, and other security measures. 

  1. Detection of misappropriation: Stay vigilant for signs of trade secret misappropriation, which can occur through theft, breach of contract, or espionage. 

  1. Legal action: If misappropriation is suspected, swift legal action is necessary. This can involve filing a lawsuit and seeking injunctions to prevent further disclosure. 

  1. Litigation process: Engage in the discovery process, gather evidence, and present a compelling case in court to protect trade secrets and seek damages. 

Safeguarding trade secrets through diligent protection and proactive legal action is imperative for maintaining a competitive advantage in the dynamic business landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Protect What You’ve Worked for


The Role of a Trade Secret Litigation Attorney 

A trade secret litigation attorney plays a pivotal role in safeguarding a business's confidential information. David H. Schwartz, an attorney with over 45 years of experience serving the San Francisco Bay Area, understands the intricacies of trade secret law and the high stakes involved in these cases.  

David's approach involves: 

  • A thorough case evaluation, assessing the specifics of the case to determine the best legal strategy. 

  • Advising on protective measures to prevent future misappropriation. 

  • The litigation process to ensure that trade secrets are protected in court. 

  • Providing continuous legal support to address any emerging threats to trade secrets. 

With a seasoned trade secret litigation attorney like David H. Schwartz, businesses can confidently protect their vital confidential information and maintain their competitive edge in the market. 

FAQs About Trade Secret Litigation in California 

Q1. What qualifies as a trade secret? 

Obviously, from the Coca-Cola example, recipes can be trade secrets. Remember that the hallmark of a trade secret is that it is closely guarded, and on top of that, it must be something that is not easily deduced or determined by the general public. Thus, trade secrets can include any process or practice that gives someone a competitive edge over rivals.  

Other examples of trade secrets include, but are not limited to: patterns; plans; compilations; programming; formulas; designs; methods; techniques; procedures; programs; codes; and more. While it may be possible in some instances to obtain a patent for one of these trade secrets, once you obtain a patent, the product or device becomes public knowledge. 

Q2. What should I do if I suspect trade secret theft? 

Immediately consult a trade secret litigation attorney to evaluate the situation and take the necessary legal steps to protect your interests. 

Q3. How can I prove trade secret misappropriation? 

Proving misappropriation typically involves demonstrating that the information was a trade secret, reasonable protective measures were in place, and the information was acquired through improper means. 

Q4. Can former employees be sued for trade secret theft? 

Yes, if a former employee has misappropriated trade secrets, they can be held legally accountable. 

Q5. What Are Considered ‘Reasonable Measures’ to Protect a Trade Secret?  

Under the UTSA and California law, the owner of a trade secret must exert “reasonable measures” to protect the trade secret. Coca-Cola, for example, keeps its recipe under lock and key, so to speak, and limits access to it, according to legend. Accordingly, two of the primary reasonable measures to protect a trade secret are to keep it safeguarded and to limit access to it.  

Safeguarding can indeed involve a locked filing cabinet or even password protection for digital information. Encryption of digital data represents even another layer of protection. Marking anything physical containing the trade secret “confidential” is also important.  

As for limiting access, you need to make sure that only those personnel who need to use the information do have access, and even then, you should require employees to sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to prevent them from sharing the secret should they leave your company. 

Tips for Safeguarding Trade Secrets 

Businesses can take several practical steps to protect their trade secrets: 

  • Implement Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs): Require employees, contractors, and partners to sign NDAs that clearly outline confidentiality obligations. 

  • Restrict access: Limit access to trade secrets to only those employees who need the information to perform their duties. 

  • Regular training: Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about the importance of trade secret protection and the measures in place. 

  • Monitor and audit: Regularly monitor and audit security measures to ensure they are effective and up to date. 

  • Legal consultation: Consult with a trade secret litigation attorney to review and strengthen protective measures. 

  • Stay proactive: Regularly review and update your trade secret protection strategies to stay ahead of potential threats and maintain the integrity of your confidential information. 

Through careful implementation of protective measures, swift detection of misappropriation, and strategic legal action, businesses can secure their critical assets and thrive in their respective markets. 

Trade Secret Litigation Attorney Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

Protecting trade secrets is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. Trade secret litigation is a complex and high-stakes area of law that requires specialized legal support. For business owners and entrepreneurs, partnering with an experienced attorney like David H. Schwartz can provide the necessary legal support to safeguard these valuable assets. Schedule a consultation today to secure your trade secrets.