Ohio’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act, RC 1333.61 et seq., was enacted to prevent improper misappropriation of trade secrets by employees, and to prevent other employers from using trade secrets which they know or have reason to know that the trade secrets were obtained through improper means. The Act defines “trade secrets” as information, including the whole or any portion or phase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, improvement, or any business information or plans, financial information, or listing of names, addresses, or telephone numbers, which derive independent economic value by not being readily available to others who could obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and for which the owner has taken reasonable efforts to maintain the secrecy of the information. The protection applies to trade secrets whether the information is written, saved on a computer, or merely memorized.
In determining whether the information constitutes a trade secret, a court will look at the following factors: whether the information is known outside the business; the extent to which the information is known to those inside the business; the precautions taken by the business to guard the secrecy of the information; the savings effected and the value to the business in having the information as against competitors; the amount of effort or money expended in obtaining and developing the information; and the amount of time and expense it would take for others to acquire and duplicate the information.
The Act allows the owner of the trade secrets to obtain a court ordered injunction to prevent the actual or threatened misappropriation of their trade secrets and to prevent another person from obtaining a commercial advantage from use of the trade secrets. A Court also has the ability to compel a person to take affirmative acts to protect the misappropriated trade secrets. In addition to authorizing the Court to issue orders to prevent misuse, the Act also allows the owner of the trade secrets to recover damages resulting from the misappropriation and misuse. Damages may include the actual loss caused by misappropriation, as well as the unjust enrichment resulting from the use of the misappropriated trade secrets. If the Court determines that the misappropriation of the trade secrets was willful and malicious, the Court may also award punitive damages, which may be up to three times the actual damages awarded for the misappropriation of the trade secrets, as well as award attorney fees.
FOR INFORMATION: To schedule an appointment regarding a possible violation of the Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act, contact Phillip J. Henry, Esq. 440-243-2800. There are no legal fees for discussing a matter until the scope of the needed legal services has been discussed and established.