June 22, 2016

“The DTSA Should Add a Spark to Trade-Secret Enforcement,” Electronic Design, June 22, 2016

By Bryan K. Wheelock, Principal

The best protection for products that can be reverse-engineered is, of course, a utility patent. However, for aspects of a product that are not readily discerned from the product, such as manufacturing techniques, as well as hardware and firmware, the best protection is often trade-secret protection. What’s the biggest threat to those trade secrets? Typically, it’s the employees who know them.

Until recently, the protection of trade secrets was exclusively a matter of state law. But on May 11, 2016, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which took effect immediately. The DTSA amended the Economic Espionage Act (which provided criminal penalties for trade-secret misappropriation), giving the owners of trade secrets the right to enforce their trade secrets themselves by suing misappropriators.

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