The State of Ohio enacted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in
1994 to provide increased protection for the trade secrets of
businesses in Ohio. It protects against the misappropriation of
trade secrets and provides a variety of civil remedies that will
be available to a business who can prove that their trade secrets
were misappropriated. A court may enter an injunctive order prohibiting
the actual or threatened misappropriation of a trade secret and
the court may also award compensatory damages to the owner of
a misappropriated trade secret. In addition, in extreme cases,
punitive damages of up to three times the amount of compensatory
damages may be awarded and reasonable attorneys' fees may also
The new law gives a much broader meaning as to what information
constitutes a trade secret. It can include a portion of any scientific
or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula,
pattern, compilation, technique or improvement. It may also include
financial information, such as business information or marketing
plans. It may also even include a listing of names, addresses,
or telephone numbers, particularly if customers are involved.
Essentially, trade secrets are information that companies try
to keep secret to give them an economic advantage over their competitors.
An example of a famous trade secret would be the formula for Coca-Cola
which has been a trade secret for over 100 years. The metallurgical
process for manufacturing high quality cymbals has been a secret
for 300 years or more.
While the patent on a patented product has a limited life --
now 20 years -- a trade secret can last so long as it remains
a secret. Within the time period permitted, a business may need
to decide whether a trade secret should remain a trade secret
or become patented. There are advantages and disadvantages to
each. The help of an intellectual property lawyer would be invaluable
in making this decision.
The attorneys at McLaughlin and McNally are used to dealing with trade secrets and can counsel businesses on what they should do in order to preserve the secret information as a protected "trade secret."