On May 11, President Barack Obama today signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) into law.  The law is effective immediately.  The DTSA provides a federal claim for misappropriation of trade secrets. Until now, trade secrets have been protected only at the state level, with most states (other than New York and Massachusetts) adopting their own version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA).

You can read more about the details of the new law here in an overview by our colleagues Victoria LeeRajiv Dharnidharka and Katherine Cheung.

Note that as a result of this new law, employers should review the agreements they use with employees, independent contractors and consultants that govern the use of trade secret or confidential information to include the notice of the whistleblower immunity under DTSA.  The notice provision is required in all such agreements that are entered into on or after May 12, 2016 as well as any amendments entered into on or after May 12, 2016 with respect to any such pre-existing agreements. This provision is clearly applicable to all employee proprietary information and invention agreements, contractor and consulting agreements with individuals as well as nondisclosure agreements.  The DTSA does provide employers an alternative to satisfy the notice requirement by including a cross-reference in the agreement with the employees, consultants and contractors to the employer’s policies that include the notice of immunity.

DLA Piper’s i.D.R.A.F.T. startup kit materials have already been updated to reflect the notice to employees and individual contractors and consultants required by the new law. See the freshly updated documents here.