Trade secret litigations are not like all other litigations. In these cases, at least one party, if not both, need to advance their claims while carefully protecting the underlying information about which they are litigating—the trade secret itself. This heightened degree of protection necessitates particularized skill and care throughout all phases of the litigation to ensure that the trade secret is protected while the case goes forward.
A trade secret is generally defined as a combination of characteristics and components, each of which, by itself, may be in the public domain, but the unified process, design, and operation of which, in unique combination, affords a competitive advantage and is a protectable secret.
This article identifies best practices at a high level to help guide employers through the lifecycle of a trade secret litigation—from an employee's hiring through the completion of litigation. Although each topic discussed below could be the subject of its own article, this article seeks to familiarize employers to some key considerations for trade secret litigations before a fatal mistake, such as loss of trade secret protection, is made. The article is divided into two sections—company internal activities, such as hiring, internal procedures, investigations, etc., and external steps to protect trade secrets, such as cease and desist letters and court or arbitration litigation.