Thursday, April 10, 2014

Employee Trade Secret Duty

Dear Rich: I don't see many questions about trade secrets on the blog and I have a particular question. Is an employee (not under an NDA) under any duty to discover what are his/her employer's trade secrets are, and/or protect/not divulge them? Employees always have a duty to protect employer trade secrets regardless whether they signed a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). This duty not to disclose is typically found in state trade secret laws. As for the duty to "discover" trade secrets ... an employer usually makes it clear what is a trade secret. If not, the categorization (of what is a secret) may become an issue if an employer decides to sue.
Why do employers use NDAs? Employers use NDAs -- in addition to state laws that protect them -- because it's possible to obtain extra benefits when suing, including increased damages, payment of attorney fees and a guarantee as to where or how the dispute will be resolved.
Not to put to fine a point on it ... The Dear Rich Staff answers many trade secret questions (over 20 so far). Use the search box on the right to find them. We also have a thorough trade secret site with lots of free NDAs!

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