The term “theft of trade secrets” might conjure thoughts of a spy movie but these acts are not uncommon. Allegations regarding the misappropriation of trade secrets are serious, given that it is a criminal offense.
If you have been accused of theft of trade secrets in Orlando, it is vital that you protect yourself right away. These allegations could result in criminal charges that could lead to incarceration and steep fines. Let a skilled theft defense attorney review the allegations against you and advise you on your options.
It is helpful to understand how state law defines a trade secret. According to Florida Statute § 812.081, a trade secret could include anything such as a pattern, formula, device or series of devices, or compilation of information. To be a trade secret, these items must be used for the purpose of operating a business. They must also give that business an advantage over competitors who lack the same information.
A trade secret can take different forms. It could be scientific or technical in nature, like a design or procedure, but it could also include business or financial information like customer lists or best practices. It does not matter how a trade secret is stored or even if it is a tangible object or not. Ultimately, for something to be a trade secret, it must have the following qualities:
Ultimately, secrecy must protect the value of this information, and the holder of the trade secret must make efforts to keep that information private. Criminal charges are not possible if the holder of the trade secret allowed that information to enter the public realm voluntarily. This means the business owner must make reasonable efforts to keep the information from getting out. These efforts could include limiting access to the information by employees on a “need to know” basis.
In Orlando, theft of trade secrets is a 3rd-degree felony, and a conviction could lead to as much as five years in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000.
Building a defense against allegations of trade secret theft in Orlando can be challenging. What’s more, these cases can differ dramatically from each other. For example, allegations of theft regarding top-secret technology designs are very different from a dispute over customer lists.
One of the key defenses in these cases is to attack the idea that the information in question is a trade secret at all. Often, these allegations involve the use of nebulous concepts or strategies that do not meet the minimum requirements set out in the statute.
Another viable defense could be that the secret in question was made public by the business. Remember: business owners must take reasonable steps to keep their confidential information private. If the owner failed to do so and is ultimately responsible for that information becoming public knowledge, a criminal charge of theft of trade secrets is inappropriate.
Allegations of trade secret theft are serious but they are also frequently defensible. In some cases, it could be possible to have these charges dismissed without ever going to trial.
If you are facing charges of theft of trade secrets in Orlando, now is the time to seek legal counsel. Call the Umansky Law Firm today for a private consultation with one of our highly experienced criminal defense lawyers.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys