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Trade Secrets


If your former employer is claiming you shared a trade secret, the employer needs to be able to show that she/he took reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy (including restricting access on a “need to know” or “need to use” basis and informing employees that it is secret).



Confidential business information that provides a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. It is information that derives financial or economic value from not being generally known to others who could profit from it. In order to qualify as a trade secret, a business must take reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.

If your California employer has not protected its company information and/or did not inform you that the information you are receiving is confidential, it may not be considered a trade secret and a claim against you for trade secret misappropriation may not be valid.

Examples of trade secrets:

  • Client lists
  • Business plans;
  • Financial information;
  • Devices
  • Formulas;
  • Patterns;
  • Unannounced products that derive commercial value from being kept secret


A trade secret is a significant form of intellectual property that is increasingly the subject of lawsuits, especially in California’s vibrant tech industry.

If you are not sure if something you know is a trade secret, consider what your employer said about the information, as well as whether the information was marked “secret” or “confidential,” was kept in a place with limited public access, or was the subject of a confidentiality agreement.

Consult your employee handbook and training materials as well since these will often list types of information that must not be used outside the company.



Trade secret and employee mobility differs from state to state. In California, trade secret lawsuits may include claims of trade secret identification, breach of contract, and breaches of implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing. One of the more complex issues is threatened misappropriation, which is a threat to misuse trade secrets (as manifested by words or conduct). For this claim to succeed, the evidence against you must indicate imminent misuse.



California employees who create the inventions on their own time and without using employers’ materials or facilities can claim ownership to certain forms of intellectual property, including trade secrets. Our experienced team of trade secret attorneys can go over your case with you in detail, helping you prove that you actually own the secret.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Call Hardin Law Group today to talk to a trade secrets attorney and learn how you may gain compensation for the losses. Remember, that you will not pay any attorney’s fees unless you win. Connect with us today.

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