Puerto Rico Trade Secrets
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The protection of trade secrets is a distinctly state-controlled area and is not covered by any federal statutory grant of rights. A trade secret owner is not required to make continuous use of a trade secret in order to receive protection. Trade secret protection exists for as long as the secrecy or confidentiality of the trade secret is maintained.Definition of a Trade Secret
Most states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which protects information that (1) derives economic value from not being known publicly and (2) is the object of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. A trade secret can include a business formula, compilation, pattern, program, device, method, technique, or process which, though neither copyrighted nor patented, is used in the conduct of the owner’s business, is not disclosed to the public, and provides the owner with a competitive commercial advantage.
The following factors will likely be considered in determining whether a trade secret exists:
- The extent to which the information is known outside the owner’s organization;
- The extent to which it is known by employees and others involved in the organization;
- The extent of measures taken by the owner to guard the secrecy of the information (e.g., labeling the information “Trade Secret” or “Confidential,” advising employees of the existence of a trade secret, limiting access to the information within the company on a “need-to-know basis,” and controlling company access);
- The economic value of the information to the owner and competitors;
- The amount of effort or money spent by the owner in developing the information; and
- The ease or difficulty with which the information could be acquired or duplicated by others.
Puerto Rico Trade Secrets Law
On June 3, Act No. 80 of 2011, the Trade Secrets Act of Puerto Rico was approved. It is based on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The Act defines a trade secret as any confidential information that has economic value or that provides commercial advantage and that is under reasonable security measures to maintain its secrecy. Furthermore, the Act provides that a person that misappropriates a trade secret will be liable to its owner, who has several remedies available. The owner of a trade secret that has been misappropriated can file a complaint and request an ex parte temporary restraining order. It also can seek injunctive relief and damages, including treble damages and attorney’s fees, if the appropriation was intentional or in bad faith. Finally, the statute of limitations is set at three years from the date the owner learns, or should have learned, of the misappropriation.
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