Most businesses accumulate data valuable not only to their business, but
to their competitors. What is the value of your customer list? Or the
business model you perfected?
In July 1988, the Nebraska Trade Secrets Act (NTSA) became law. The NTSA
was designed with the objective of codifying and strengthening trade secret
protection laws in Nebraska.
Under the NTSA, a trade secret is “information, including, but not
limited to a drawing, formula, pattern, compilation, program, device,
method, technique, code, or process” that derives an independent
economic value from “not being ascertainable by proper means”
(not public information) and “is subject of efforts that are reasonable
under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
The NTSA protects those entities whose secrets were misappropriated through
theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach of a duty to maintain secrecy,
espionage through electronic means, or other improper methods.
While courts are reluctant to protect information readily ascertainable
through public resources, when time and effort have been expended by businesses
to compile information, even if the information could be pieced together
through multiple sources, courts may prohibit or provide damages for misappropriated
For example, the Nebraska Supreme Court has held a home food service company’s
customer list was a trade secret; some “family secret” recipes
were protected as trade secrets; and, a freight company’s “customer
contact, load, and pricing information” met the definition of a
Under the NTSA, a successful complainant can recover damages for misappropriation
to include the actual loss caused by misappropriation and the unjust enrichment
caused by misappropriation. Damages caused by misappropriation can also
be measured by imposition of a reasonable royalty for unauthorized use.
The NTSA also expressly provides misappropriation of a trade secret can
also be enjoined by the court – an equitable remedy that restrains
an entity from an action; restricts an invasion of a legal right of another;
or otherwise compels a person to carry out a specific act.
Further, when filing suit under NTSA, businesses can request a protection
order to keep disputed information private and any disclosure in court
is expressly not considered abandonment.
Before filing suit, however, it is important businesses take reasonable
efforts to maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets. This includes
policies such as: 1) written non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements
for employees, as well as independent contractors and even potential clients;
2) issuing written demands for the return of all company property upon
termination of employment or contractual relationship; 3) exit interviews
for all departing employees that reinforce non-disclosure requirements;
4) locking doors and desks containing sensitive information; 5) password
protected and encrypted files; and, perhaps most importantly, 6) clearly
identifying confidential material as confidential or private.
Employment law experts, like Berry Law Firm, can assist you in drafting
solid confidentiality, non-compete, and non-disclosure agreements. Don’t
wait for a misappropriation to determine whether you were protected. Call
for a free consultation.