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Tag Archives: trade secret protection

City of Miami Beach successfully dismisses Defend Trade Secrets Act Lawsuit

Recently, the City of Miami Beach prevailed on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it under the new Defend Trade Secrets Act.[1] In May of this year, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which allowed, for the first time, the filing of a trade secret misappropriation claim under Federal law.[2] This lawsuit is one of the first lawsuits brought in South Florida under the new Defend Trade Secrets Act. The Plaintiff is a construction firm which alleges that the City of Miami Beach wrongly disclosed its confidential payroll information to co-defendant International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 349 in response to a public records request by Local 349.[3] The City of Miami Beach filed a motion to dismiss the Plaintiff’s Complaint alleging that the Plaintiff had failed to allege that it took reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of its payroll information when it was disclosed to a third party contractor by Plaintiff, whom the City of Miami Beach received the allegedly confidential payroll information from.[4] Specifically, City of Miami Beach argued that the Plaintiff failed to allege that it required the third party contractor to sign an agreement to keep the information confidential.[5]

The Southern District Court of Florida agreed, noting that it is the Plaintiff’s burden to show that the information it seeks to protect is secret and that reasonable steps were taken to protect the secrecy of such information.[6] The Plaintiff’s Complaint was only dismissed without prejudice, thus, meaning that the Plaintiff has an opportunity to amend its Complaint. This case shows that it is important for businesses to remember that trade secret protection is not automatic. In order to obtain trade secret protection, reasonable steps must be taken. Our firm has provided a helpful list of suggestions of how the secrecy of trade secrets can be preserved. The aforementioned list provides general guidelines and suggestions. Consultation with a Florida licensed attorney is recommended to formulate a specific plan for protection. Our attorneys are experienced in trade secret protection.

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Shareholder

[1] See, M.C. Dean, Inc. v. City of Miami Beach, Florida, No. 16-21731-CIV-ALTONAGA/O’SULLIVAN, 2016 WL 4179807 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 8, 2016).
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.

U.S. Senators attempt to pass the Defend Trade Secrets Act

Recently, the Defend Trade Secrets Act was passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Defend Trade Secrets Act is headed by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Chris Coons, who issued a press release stating their case for the bill.[1] The Defend Trade Secrets Act attempts to create a federal cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets.[2] Currently, trade secret law is governed by state law and is subject to the various differing standards within each state. Having a federal standard would provide clarity, but the passing of a federal law may create concerns about whether the current state laws will be preempted by the proposed federal law. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 makes theft of trade secrets a federal crime, but the amount of cases actually prosecuted by the federal government under this act is minimal.[3]

In Florida, trade secret protection is governed by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in Fla. Stat. § 688.001, et seq. A trade secret is defined as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that:

Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and

Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”[4]

Trade secret protection is not automatic and in order to obtain protection there must have been reasonable steps taken to preserve the secrecy thereof. Our firm has provided a helpful list (https://500law.com/faq/what-steps-can-i-take-to-preserve-the-secrecy-of-my-trade-secrets/) of suggestions of how the secrecy of trade secrets can be preserved. The aforementioned list provides general guidelines and suggestions. Consultation with a Florida licensed attorney is recommended to formulate a specific plan for protection. Our attorneys are experienced in trade secret protection and will be monitoring the status of the Defend Trade Secrets Act to determine the impact it may have on Florida law if passed.

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Shareholder

[1] See, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/technology/267204-pass-the-defend-trade-secrets-act
[2] Id.
[3] See, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/technology/267204-pass-the-defend-trade-secrets-act
[4] See, Fla. Stat. § 688.02(4).