What is Theft of Trade Secrets?
A trade secret is any confidential information about your company or enterprise that provides a competitive edge in the marketplace. If leaked to a competitor this confidential information could give your competitor an advantage thereby causing harm to your company.
A trade secret can consist of a:
- Compilation of Information
How Are Trade Secrets Protected?
Trade secrets are protected from theft generally through the use of non-compete or non-disclosure contracts. Employees generally sign these contracts when hired by a company. Many companies only entrust a few select employees with trade secrets.
Penalties for Theft of Trade Secrets
Domestic Trade Secret Theft Penalties:
- Individuals: fined under Title 18 and/or up to 10 years in prison
- Organizations: $5,000,000 or 3 times the value of the stolen trade secret to the organization, including expenses for research and design
Foreign Economic Espionage Penalties:
If a trade secret theft was committed to benefit a non-U.S. government, agency or instrumentality, otherwise known as foreign economic espionage, then the penalty is much greater. The Foreign and Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act of 2012 was signed into law to protect U.S. jobs and technologies and advance the economic and national security interests of the United States. Penalties are extreme for an individual or organization in violation of this federal statute:
- Individuals: $5,000,000 and/or up to 15 years in prison
- Organizations: $10,000,000 or 3 times the value of the stolen trade secret to the organization, including expenses for research and design
What to do if you are charged with Trade Secret Theft?
If you are a former employee of a company or organization and are charged or you are being investigated for dispersing trade secrets, it is important that you contact a South Carolina White Collar Crimes Attorney. Our White Collar Crime Attorney can review any documents that you may have signed concerning trade secrets. We understand that a trade secret theft charge can be damaging both professionally and personally. The South Carolina White Collar Crimes Attorney at the Strom Law Firm, LLC will fight to aggressively clear your name of trade secret theft charges. Call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.