The emerging market of 3D printing is primed for trade secrets and the disputes over who “owns” these trade secrets. Shared ideas, broken business deals, and employee mobility fuels most of these disputes. The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), a newly enacted federal trade secret act, defines the term “owner” as “the person or entity in whom or in which rightful legal or equitable title to, or license in, the trade secret is reposed.”

This means it may be time evaluate your agreements and implement steps to manage risks of trade secret disputes. If you have agreements in place with the companies you do business with, no agreements in place, or you are about to enter into a collaborative relationship where trade secrets are involved, it is time to take another look at exactly how you are addressing the “rightful legal or equitable title” and what unforeseen complications you may have overlooked. They key points to consider while evaluating your agreements are:

  • There are no default rules regarding ownership.
  • Understand the cycle of innovation before finalizing ownership provisions.
  • Understand what rights you need to continue if the collaborative relationship ends.
  • Original non-disclosure agreements are necessary, but know the potential pitfalls.
  • Analyze “standard” terms and conditions.

A white paper with more information about the Defend Trade Secrets Act and how to manage this risk in collaborative relationships can be found here.