Protecting the intellectual property of individuals and businesses in California

Trade secrets are valuable information that can give your business a distinct edge over its competition. At McCarthy & Kroes, an attorney helps you protect each valuable trade secret, from manufacturing processes to commercial secrets. We advise you about:

  • Safeguards for business operations and employment
  • Drafting and enforcing sound confidentiality agreements with employees and others
  • Resolving trade secret and non-compete disputes
  • Enforcing protections

Trade secrets and confidential business information

Trade secrets are any proprietary business information, including formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques and processes, that provide a value to their owner by not being known to others. Businesses and individuals must take reasonable precautions to keep others from learning about information for it to be considered a protectable trade secret.

Non-compete agreements

Non-compete agreements, also known as covenants not to compete, are contracts signed by employees promising not to compete or solicit customers for a limited time after employment and in a limited geographic area. While many states enforce non-compete agreements, California typically does not, even when the agreement is sufficiently limited. However, California courts have allowed enforcement of these agreements to protect trade secrets from employees.

A lawyer can help businesses and individuals that have intellectual property and trade secrets safeguard them by developing a non-compete agreement providing reasonable restrictions and consideration to employees. A non-compete can help prevent disputes, such as employees using trade secrets at a new company or when starting their own businesses. Through use of a non-compete, our attorneys can help you sue for breach of contract and violations of the Uniform Trade Secret Act or unfair competition law.

Trade secret protection and disputes

When trade secret disputes arise, such as when a competitor, former employee, vendor or other party uses your confidential information without authorization, our attorneys help you protect your intellectual property. Trade secrets may be protected by a variety of lawsuits:

  • Breach of a confidentiality or non-compete contract
  • Unfair business competition
  • Bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, espionage through electronic or other means, and misappropriation

With California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act, a business attorney can help you sue a party for actual or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets. A party can seek to have such an injunction terminated when the trade secret ceases to exist, but the injunction may be continued for an additional time period to eliminate any commercial advantage that could be derived from the misappropriation. In addition to an injunction, a court may award:

  • Damages for actual loss
  • Compensation for unjust enrichment
  • Reasonable royalties
  • Exemplary damages

Seek the professional assistance you need to protect your trade secrets

Under the law, you may have as little as three years from the date of misappropriation to sue and protect your trade secrets and intellectual property rights. For prompt and candid assistance in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, contact our lawyers at McCarthy & Kroes online or call 805.564.2085 today.