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By By Michael A. Gehret, Ed Roberson and Thomas Shields

This is the second in a two-part series on the protection of trade secrets. Part 1 ran in the July 31 issue of The Enterprise.

Pursuing the Thief

If your company does find itself in the unfortunate and unenviable position of having its trade secrets stolen, it should take swift action to minimize the dissemination of that information and the economic impact of the theft. Under federal law and the laws of most states, the misappropriation of trade secret information is a crime with harsh penalties. However, many companies that have been the victims of trade secret theft choose not to pursue criminal punishment, but instead take action to obtain civil relief.

The reasons for pursuing civil relief rather than criminal will vary, but often companies will go the civil litigation route because they view it as the quicker avenue to relief over which they have greater control. In a civil lawsuit, the company can choose when to file, whether it will seek emergency relief and ultimately whether it wants to dismiss the lawsuit and under what conditions. In a criminal action, the company may have influence over these decisions, but ultimately the decisions lie with the particular prosecuting authority.

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