There are many factors to consider when creating a new company, and protecting intellectual property is one of the most important. While not every startup has information that seems as secret as a famous recipe or formula, almost all companies in California have some kind of proprietary data that is worth protecting. A variety of legal tools are available to shield IP.
California and 47 other states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (USTA) in order to help companies protect their intellectual property. The USTA describes a trade secret as a type of information, such as a program, technique, pattern, formula or process. This information has economic value to the company as a result of not being widely known. Unlike other types of IP, trade secrets do not require registration and do not have any expiration date.
In conjunction with the USTA, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) was put into federal law in 2016 in order to provide victims of trade secret theft an avenue for compensation in federal court. Remedies are only provided when trade secrets are taken through improper means. Discovering IP through reverse engineering or other legal means is allowed.
New companies with valuable intellectual property or trade secrets can benefit from the support and guidance of a law practice that focuses on business formation and planning. Legal counsel can help set up patents, trademarks and other protections that preserve the economic value of a company’s information. Various state and federal regulations are available to protect entrepreneurs.