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Protecting Your Trade Secrets in a COVID-19 World

April 16, 2020

By: Melody Lynch

Remote work. Shuttered offices. Courthouse closures. Social distancing. Business in a COVID-19 world has been turned upside down. In our current climate, it is more important than ever to protect your intellectual property and corporate assets.

Working remotely creates more opportunities for employees to gain access to the company’s trade secrets via their personal computers or electronic devices. This could lead to misappropriation of the company’s trade secrets in the future. So what should companies do now? 

Companies should remain vigilant to protect their trade secrets and should only disclose trade secrets to employees with a need to know such sensitive and proprietary information. Employees who are current employees now may be former employees in the future. If given sensitive information, it is important that the employer appropriately protect the information from improper disclosure or use.

There are a number of ways to protect trade secrets or other proprietary information. Some employers utilize employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), or other contracts to protect the assets of the company. Other employers rely on their employee handbooks, strict access restrictions, encryption, and other security measures to protect their intellectual property.

Three different types of misappropriation of trade secrets claims affect employers, including: (1) misappropriation by improper acquisition; (2) misappropriation by disclosure; and (3) misappropriation by use. Unlike the more stringent standards applied in the patent context, misappropriation by use in the trade secret context is broad and includes not only using the exact secret but using knowledge gained from the company to create a new product or method. Specifically, in the trade secret context, the employer must show that the employee, former employee, or third party substantially derived the design or product from the company’s trade secrets.

If you have questions about protecting your company’s trade secrets or believe your company has been subjected to misappropriation of its trade secrets, please contact Melody Lynch at 407-418-6447 or to discuss your options. 

Be sure to visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center page to keep up to date on the latest news.

This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.

Melody Lynch focuses her practice on probate, trust & fiduciary litigation, contested guardianships, and complex business disputes. Her MBA complements her law degree when she analyzes financial statements and handles other complicated issues involving assets. 

A significant portion of Melody’s practice is devoted to resolving conflicts among family members and other estate beneficiaries, fights over missing assets and property ownership, claims by or against fiduciaries, guardianship challenges, and other proceedings requiring the interpretation of wills and trusts. She frequently helps charitable organizations, foundations, trustees and other institutional beneficiaries of large estates navigate the probate process. Whether in or out of the courtroom, Melody handles these delicate – and often emotional – issues not just with legal proficiency but with compassion as well.  

Melody’s experience extends to other business disputes too, particularly in the employment law arena with matters involving restrictive covenants as well as non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. She has protected employers in a wide range of industries, including medical devices, pest control, physicians and physician practices. 

In addition, she is a Guardian ad Litem for the Legal Aid Society where she represents the interests of abused and neglected children. She also is a pro bono attorney for Seniors First where she represents the interests of indigent elderly wards. 

The court room isn’t the only stage on which Melody has appeared. Before pursuing her career in law, Melody attended college on a ballet scholarship and was an apprentice dancer with a professional ballet company. A native of Orlando, her passion for both the arts and the area informs her leadership roles in the Central Florida community. She serves as president-elect of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, was named to the prestigious Orlando Business Journal’s "40 under 40" list, and was awarded the Presidential Leadership Award by the Orange County Bar Association. 

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