There is currently no federal civil cause of action specifically addressing the misappropriation of trade secrets, but that may soon change. On July 29, 2015, a bipartisan group of Senators and members of the House of Representatives proposed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015 (S. 1890, H.R. 3326) (the “Act”).
As proposed, the Act recognizes that theft of trade secrets occurs in the United States and around the world and that it harms companies that own those trade secrets, and their employees. The Act would allow an owner of a trade secret to bring a civil action under the Act if the “person is aggrieved by a misappropriation of a trade secret that is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” The Act would provide district courts of the United States with original jurisdiction of those civil actions. However, the Act would impose a limitation that any such action must not be commenced “later than 5 years after the date on which the misappropriation with respect to which the action would relate is discovered or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered.” Accordingly, the date on which a trade secret owner should have discovered a misappropriation will be vital, particularly because “a continuing misappropriation constitutes a single claim of misappropriation.”
Recognizing the importance of protecting trade secrets, the Act would allow trade secret owners to seek emergency relief. Subject to certain requirements, the Act would allow a court to issue an order providing for the “seizure” of “the property necessary to prevent propagation or dissemination of the trade secret” upon an affidavit or verified complaint.
Currently, Florida business owners bring claims for the misappropriation of trade secrets pursuant to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The proposed federal Act may expand the avenue of reliefs available to the owners of trade secrets. Florida business owners should be pay close attention to this proposed law as it moves through Congress.