Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of trade secrets, reasonable steps to preserve secrecy, trade secret value, misappropriation methods used to acquire trade secrets, various legal remedies, and internal controls to protect trade secrets. Design/methodology/approach – A sample of types of civil trade secret cases is highlighted. The paper includes a statutory and legal case study analysis of the elements in a civil trade secrets lawsuit. Analysis of actual trade secret court cases illustrates the importance of private civil lawsuits in combating intellectual property fraud. Findings – This paper shows the serious impact of trade secret espionage on the success and survival of businesses and the necessity of proving each element of a civil claim under state trade secret law. Also, practical steps necessary to protect an entity's trade secrets are discussed. Practical implications – This paper raises the awareness of executives, managers, internal and external auditors, forensic accountants and other interested parties about the severity of trade secret espionage. Also, this paper highlights numerous steps to protect trade secrets. Originality/value – This paper fills an identified need to inform those involved in the fight against economic crime about the importance of state trade secret laws and internal controls in the fight against intellectual property fraud.
International Journal of Law and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 16, 2008
Keywords: – Fraud; United States of America; Intellectual property; Espionage; Trade secrets; Law