The Law Office Of

Neal Jacobs

8118 Corporate Way, Suite 110, Mason Ohio 45040

NJ

Trade Secrets

Ohio's Trade Secrets Act Has Broad Restraints Even If You Are Not Subject To A Non-compete Agreement.

An employee who uses trade secrets may be liable for damages (or may even be enjoined from using that information) under Ohio's Trade Secrets Act (the "Act") even if the employee has not signed a non-compete or nondisclosure agreement.  The Act broadly defines trade secrets to include scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or improvement, or any business information or plans, financial information that an employee has obtained during his or her employment.  

Equally importantly, names, addresses, or telephone numbers (sometime referred to as "customer lists") may constitute a trade secret if: (1) they derive economic value from not being generally known to, and are not readily ascertainable by other persons who can obtain economic value from disclosure or use of the information; and (2) the information is the subject reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. 

In determining the existence of a trade secret, the trial court must consider:

  • the extent to which the information is known outside the business;
  • the extent to which it is known by the employees;
  • the precautions taken by the holder of the trade secret to guard the secrecy of the information;
  • the savings effected and the value to the holder in having the information withheld from competitors;
  • the amount of effort or money expended in obtaining and developing the information; and
  • the amount of time and expense it would take for others to acquire and duplicate.  

Notwithstanding the prohibitions of the Act, Courts balance the rights of an employer to enjoy the processes and products developed through the company’s own efforts and investment against the employee's right to earn a living using his or her own personal skill, knowledge and experience. These interests are balanced by distinguishing between knowledge and skill general known in the trade, and knowledge acquired particularly from the employer.

 
 

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