Top Secret: How to Successfully Build a Trade Secrets Case
When an employee who has left a company to work for a competitor shares a coveted trade secret, his or her former employer can experience devastating effects, including lost business and reputational damage. As a result, the former employer may want to file a lawsuit; and to stop the former employee and the competitor from using the proprietary information while the suit is pending, the employer can also seek preliminary injunctive relief. Preliminary injunctive relief requires an evidentiary showing that the former employer is suffering irreparable harm. That is, harm that cannot be remedied with money damages. The former employer must also show a likelihood that the employer will prevail on its claim against the former employee. As such, the former employer must develop preliminary evidence that the information taken is a secret that is not readily ascertainable from public sources, that the employer took reasonable precautions to protect the information from disclosure, that the former employee took the information without authority and is using the information or has disclosed the information to others. If successful, the former employee, and those acting in concert with the former employee, will be enjoined from using the former employer’s information while the litigation proceeds. As such, seeking and obtaining preliminary injunctive relief can, and is often, an important milestone in a trade secret case.