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Federal and 50 States Survey
The purpose of this page is to be a springboard for those deciding whether or not to bring a federal or state claim for trade secret theft. In some cases the federal alone may suffice, in some the state may be more favorable, and in other situations both federal and state claims may be favorable if filed together. Just like there is a Model Penal Code or Model Rules of Professional Conduct, there is a Model set of rules for trade secret law known as the Uniform Trade Secret Act. Most states adopt the uniform act (with the exception of New York and Massachusetts), but it is anything but uniform because the states delete and change many provisions. Uniformity has only been recently added with the Federal Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016.
Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016
Politics and the Trade Secret Act
It is interesting to note that trade secret law is not as politically motivated as consumer protection and business regulation. The act passed unanimously in the senate and with 2 opposing votes in the house. Click above to learn more about the bills history and record timing.
Alaska trade secret law is governed by the Trade and Commerce Section of the Alaska statutes.
Arizona Trade Secret Law is governed by Title 44 of the Arizona Code. Click here to learn more about their definitions.
Arizona recognizes the value of keeping trade secret litigation private so plaintiffs are not deterred from filing a claim. Click here to learn more.
Jenkins v. APS Insurance
Arkansas courts have seemingly held that punitive and exemplary damages are not allowed even if willful and malicious conduct exists as they are not authorized by statute.
It is interesting to note that the statute explicitly defines searching through trash as improper means.
Delware Trade Secret law is largely governed by Title 6, Subtitle II, Chapter 20 of the Delaware Code.
Florida Uniform Trade Secret Act
Florida Trade Secret Law is governed by the Commercial Relations Section of the Florida Statutes.
Florida v. Connecticut view on trash
In this case the court declined to rule as a matter of law whether or not placing documents in trash was enough to protect secrecy. The case was ultimately remanded as a question of fact for jury.
Georgia Trade Secret
Georgia Trade Secret Law is governed by Title 10 of the Georgia Code: Commerce and Trade
Georgia is favorable forum for plaintiffs in that it has one of the longest SOL among the 50 states and federal law, of which they have 5 years.
In the event unjust enrichment or damages cannot be proved by a preponderance of evidence, the statute authorizes the court to still award royalty damages.
Illinois Trade Secret Law is governed by the Illinois Compiled Statutes Chapter 765, Section 1036. The statute is found in the Miscellaneous Property Section.
Libert Corp v. Mazur
Illinois is the leading case in inevitable disclosure. In Illinois, a plaintiff may prove misappropriation by demonstrating that defendant's new employment will inevitably lead to disclosure of the secret.
Hawaii Trade Secret Law
Hawaii trade secret law is governed by Title 26: Trade and Regulation Practice of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.
-It may be useful to check out the severability provision, of which most states do not have.
Hawaii has also added a privilege into their evidence code governed by Title 33. In this code, the trade secret owner can refuse to disclose the secret so long as it does not induce fraud or concealment.
Idaho trade Secret Act
Idaho Trade Secret law is governed by Title 48: Monopolies and Trade Practices of the Idaho Statutes.
Idaho is one of the few states that define what a computer program is or ought to be for the purposes of trade secret protection.
Indiana Trade Secrets
Indiana trade secret law is governed by Title 24 of the Indiana Code.
-If damages can not be proved, the court may order a reasonable royalty in accordance with the statute. This may be quite favorable for plaintiffs.
Iowa Uniform Trade Secret Act
Iowa trade secret law is governed by Ch. 550 of the Iowa Code Ann.
- Iowa is one of the rare jurisdictions that do not define misapproriation as "without express or implied consent."
Consent can be used as a defense however under 550.5 of the code.
Kansas trade secret law is governed by Chapter 60, Article 33 of the Kansas Code.
Louisiana trade secret law is governed by Title 51 Section 1451 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes Ann.
-Louisiana is one of a few states that did not adopt recovery of exemplary damages even in cases of willful and malicious behavior.
-Lousiana also does not adopt a reasonable royalty standard of recovery.
Maine trade secret law is governed by Title 10 Chapter 302 of the Maine Revised Statutes.
-Maine is one of the few states that goes beyond the normal 3 year SOL and utilizes a 4 year period.
Massachussetts Has No Uniform Act
Massachussetts has not adopted a Uniform Trade Secret Act. They only have a statute governing trade secret misappropriation claims. Click see more for the entire definition.
-Massachussetts through common law often refers to the first restatement of torts.
Minnesota Uniform Trade Secret Act
Minnesota trade secret law is governed by MINN. STAT. ANN. § 325C.
-The statute specifically states that even when an employee is not given specific notice something is a trade secret, they can still be held liable.
-This is somewhat conflicting with the reasonable measures standard of the Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016.
Mississippi Uniform Trade Secret Act
Mississippi trade secret law is governed by Title 75: Regulation of trade, commerce and investments, Chapter 26 of the Mississippi code.
-Mississippi has no limit on exemplary damages!
Nebraska Trade Secret Law
Nebraska does not adopt the full version of Uniform Trade Secret Act template. Trade secret law is governed by Chapter 87 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes.
-Nebraska has a 4 year SOL.
Nevada Uniform Trade Secret Act
Nevada trade secret law is governed by N.R.S. Chapter 600A.
-Nevada's Uniform Trade Secret Act also contains criminal penalties.
New Hampshire Uniform Trade Secret Act
New Hampshire trade secret law is governed by Chapter 350-B of the New Hampshire Statutes.
-New Hampshire notes as most other states do that the SOL applies to a continuing misappropriation and not the the theft itself.
New Jersey Trade Secret Act
New Jersey trade secret law is governed by Title 56 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes. The have not adopted a Uniform Trade Secret Act
-They eliminated acquiring the secret by accident or mistake from the definition of misappropriation.
New York (Secondary Source)
Restatement Section 757
New York has not adopted any uniform trade secret law and continues to be an outlier. New York relies heavily on a mix of common law and the restatement of torts.
Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act
Ohio trade secret law is governed by Title 13 Chapter 1333 of the Ohio Revised Code.
-Ohio has a SOL of 4 years, slightly longer than average.
Oregon Uniform Trade Secrets Act
Oregon trade secret law is governed by volume 14 chapter 646 Section 461 of the Oregon Statutes.
-The requirement that "information not be readily ascertainable" to be misappropriated has been deleted from Oregon's uniform act.
Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secret Act
Pennsylvania trade secret law is governed by Title 12 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.
-This state explicitly defines a drawing or customer list as a trade secret.
South Carolina Uniform Trade Secrets Act
South Carolina trade secret law is governed by Title 39 Chapter 8 of the South Carolina Code.
-South Carolina explicitly allows for inducement to fall within the category of" improper means".
South Dakota Uniform Trade Secrets Act
South Dakota Trade Secret Law is governed by chapter 37 Section 29 of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
-While nearly every state identifies a person as any legal entity, South Dakota is one of few states of explicitly define LLC as a person within the meaning of this statute.
Vermont Uniform Trade Secret Act
Vermont trade secret law is governed by Title 9: Commerce and Trade, Chapter 142 of the Vermont Statutes.
-Vermont has the longest SOL of any state at 6 years
-Vermont has no limit on punitive damages
Wisconsin Uniform Trade Secrets Act
Wisconsin trade secret law is governed by Chapter 134.9 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
-To obtain an injunction, the trade secret must be described with particularity and provide written disclosure. In such an event, this is when a plaintiff might want to use the Federal Cause of Action.
Wyoming Uniform Trade Secrets Act
Wyoming trade secret law is governed by Title 40 Trade and Commerce, Chapter 24 of the Wyoming Code.
-Wyoming has a longer SOL of which is 4 years.