William S. Ramsey, P.C.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are the intellectual property that every business routinely generates and owns. A trade secret is any valuable secret which the owner takes reasonable steps to protect.

A trade secret need not be a deep dark secret, merely one which has commercial value and would require work and money to discover independently. A good example is a customer list in a competitive industry.

Reasonable efforts to protect a trade secret vary depending on the nature of the secret. They may employee security guards, fences, safes to protect trade secrets which may be disclosed by observation. At a minimum, employers should have written agreements with new employees which recognize the duty of the employee not to use trade secrets after leaving the employment, and employers should remind employees at a terminal interview of this duty.

The most common trade secret issues involve employment agreements and the change of employment by individuals. Mr. Ramsey represents employers and employees in dealing with these issues.

Trade secrets are protected by both state and federal statutes. Civil recourse for trade secret infringement may be sought in state of Maryland courts. Both civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for trade secret infringement under federal statutes. A recent change in federal law has raised the stakes on trade secrets through criminal penalties.

An article on trade secrets follows:


Please call 410-740-2225 for information and an appointment.