In any type of product development in California or elsewhere, companies work hard to find ways to give themselves an edge over their competitors. Establishing a strong brand, for instance, is one way to highlight uniqueness. Trade secrets are also key factors in giving one company an advantage over another. Some business fields, such as the automotive industry, are particularly vexed by trade secret infringements.
Tesla, a well-known powerhouse in the autonomous vehicle niche, has filed numerous lawsuits against former employees and other companies for trade secret theft. Driving service mogul, Uber, has also had its share of legal trouble on the other side of the issue. In 2018, Uber agreed to pay another company $245 million to settle a case out of court where Uber was accused of conspiring with a former employee of the other company to steal trade secrets regarding software that enables an autonomous vehicle to ”see” its surroundings.
Ways to avoid litigation regarding trade secrets
Business owners and employers who wish to protect trade secrets may do so by having all new employees sign noncompete clauses in their contracts. Carefully screening prospective employees, especially those who may be coming from a competing business, is also helpful to avoid being accused of trade secret infringement. In other words, it is a bad idea to hire someone who is offering to provide a former employer’s trade secrets.
What to do if legal problems arise
Whether a former employee steals trade secrets or another California business owner files a trade secret infringement complaint against a company, seeking immediate legal guidance and support is always best. An experienced intellectual property attorney is often able to help a concerned business owner resolve trade secret issues without going to court. However, if litigation becomes necessary, it is good to have an experienced attorney to advocate on one’s behalf.