What is a Trade Secret?
The State of Minnesota has adopted the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“MUTSA” or the “Act”), codified at Minnesota Statutes Chapter 325C. The text of the statute can be located by clicking here.
Under the Act, a “trade secret” means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:
(i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and
(ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
See Minn. Stat. § 325C.01, subd. 5.
A trade secret may be a formula, drawing, schematic, blueprint, specialized process, manufacturing technique, customer list, quality assurance criteria, profit margin, pricing information, etc. The key is whether the alleged trade secret derives value from being kept secret and whether the holder of the trade secret has taken reasonable steps to protect the secrecy of the information in question.
According to the Act, the existence of a trade secret is not negated merely because an employee or other person has acquired the trade secret without express or specific notice that it is a trade secret if, under all the circumstances, the employee or other person knows or has reason to know that the owner intends or expects the secrecy of the type of information comprising the trade secret to be maintained.
How Are Minnesota Trade Secrets Protected Under the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act?
Under the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act, persons (including corporations or other legal entities) are prohibited from misappropriating trade secrets that belong to another. In simple terms, “misappropriation” means the improper acquisition, disclosure, or use of a trade secret.
In a typical scenario, an employer will allege that one of its former employees has violated the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act by improperly copying, taking, and/or sharing its trade secrets with the employee’s new employer, which is typically a competitor. The employer will often allege that the employee’s new employer is also violating the Act by using these improperly acquired trade secrets.
If the former employer can prove a violation of the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act, it can often obtain a court ordered injunction to restrain the employee’s further use and disclosure of the trade secrets and to return them to the employer. This is called “injunctive relief.” Early in the case, the injunction may take the form of an emergency Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The employer may also obtain a Temporary Injunction (sometimes called a Preliminary Injunction) until the case goes to trial. Finally, at trial, the employer can obtain a Permanent Injunction enjoining and restraining the employee and his/her new employer from using, disclosing, or further misappropriating the trade secrets.
In addition, the former employer can recover damages (typically, either the employer’s lost profits or “unjust enrichment” damages measured by the defendants’ unlawful gains), liquidated damages or “double damages” if the misappropriation of trade secrets was willful or malicious, and attorney’s fees incurred during the course of the trade secrets lawsuit.
A more detailed discussion of these remedies and damages for misappropriation of trade secrets is found under the Trade Secrets FAQ’s section of this website.
Where Can I Get Answers to My Minnesota Trade Secrets Questions?
This website is designed to answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about trade secrets under Minnesota law, including questions about the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act, misappropriation of trade secrets, protection of trade secrets, protection of customer lists, protection of confidential information, non-disclosure agreements (sometimes called “nondisclosure agreements” or “confidentiality agreements” or “NDAs”), trade secrets law, trade secrets litigation, and injunctive relief.
In addition, this website provides practical tips for employees and employers when it comes to the law of trade secrets. This website will also help you locate a Minnesota trade secrets attorney.
Should I Talk to a Minnesota Trade Secrets Lawyer? How Much Will it Cost?
The sponsor of this website, Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. law firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, provides you with an opportunity to schedule an Initial Minnesota Trade Secrets Legal Consultation to help answer your questions about Minnesota trade secrets. The consultation covers up to two (2) hours of legal assistance for $500. To schedule your initial consultation, please read the Terms & Conditions and contact the firm.
Your legal questions are important. You should obtain the advice of a competent Minnesota trade secrets attorney associated with a Minnesota trade secrets law firm that is familiar with trade secrets law, the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act, misappropriation of Minnesota trade secrets, theft of Minnesota trade secrets, Minnesota non-disclosure agreements, Minnesota confidentiality agreements, Minnesota NDAs, and the protection of Minnesota customer lists.
If you need representation by a Minnesota trade secrets attorney to start a trade secrets lawsuit, defend trade secrets litigation, or obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), Temporary Injunction, Preliminary Injunction, or Permanent Injunction, take advantage of the initial Minnesota trade secrets legal consultation.
The trade secrets laws in Minnesota are complex. The courts are constantly interpreting the trade secrets laws, which evolve over time as the courts, judges, and attorneys in Minnesota grapple with new legal questions. A Minnesota trade secrets attorney can help. Hire the right Minnesota trade secrets law firm. Getting the right legal advice after consulting with a Minnesota trade secrets lawyer can make the difference between winning or losing your Minnesota trade secrets lawsuit or litigation.
Where Can I Find More Information About Minnesota Trade Secrets Attorney Craig W. Trepanier?
For more information about Minnesota trade secrets attorney Craig W. Trepanier, click here. Mr. Trepanier is the President and co-founder of the Minnesota trade secrets law firm of Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mr. Trepanier regularly represents employers, employees, competitors, and third parties in Minnesota trade secrets matters including Minnesota trade secrets litigation, Minnesota trade secrets lawsuits, and advising clients about their obligations under the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
© 2009 – 2018 Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A.
Minnesota trade secrets attorney Craig W. Trepanier of the Minnesota trade secrets law firm of Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. in Minneapolis, Minnesota represents employers and individual employees in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota area regarding Minnesota non-compete agreements, Minnesota non-competition agreements, Minnesota non-solicitation agreements, Minnesota non-disclosure agreements, Minnesota confidentiality agreements, misappropriation of Minnesota trade secrets, theft of Minnesota trade secrets, the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Minnesota unfair competition, Minnesota tortious interference, Minnesota temporary restraining orders (TROs), Minnesota temporary injunctions, Minnesota preliminary injunctions, Minnesota cease and desist letters, Minnesota trade secrets lawsuits, and Minnesota trade secrets litigation in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Brainerd, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Duluth, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Lakeville, Mankato, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Moorhead, Plymouth, Richfield, Rochester, St. Cloud, Stillwater, Twin Cities, Woodbury and other cities within the State of Minnesota (MN) (Minn.).