In business, there are several things that are very important to your success, and some of those things are inevitably secret. Having those secrets get out could do great damage to your future success as a business. To protect your business and your place in the marketplace, you need to act aggressively to protect the trade secrets you possess. As part of doing that, be sure you have an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney on your side to protect your interests.
As a practical example, there’s a recent case decided by the First District Court of Appeal. The case arose after the state’s non-profit corporation running a children’s dental health program solicited bid proposals from dental plans. Four entities submitted proposals. The corporation awarded contracts to three of the four bidders, including an entity based in Fort Lauderdale.
The one unsuccessful applicant filed a public records request, seeking all of the documents related to the Fort Lauderdale entity’s proposal, including those denoted as “trade secrets” or “confidential.” The Fort Lauderdale entity sought a declaratory judgment, asking the judge to declare the trade secret records exempt from disclosure. The trial judge ruled that the documents were not trade secrets and ordered full disclosure.
The Fort Lauderdale-based entity appealed and won. The appeals court’s ruling is useful in reminding all about what is, and is not, a trade secret in Florida. The Florida Statutes say that, to be a trade secret, an item must be: “1. Secret; 2. Of value; 3. For use or in use by the business; and 4. Of advantage to the business, or providing an opportunity to obtain an advantage, over those who do not know or use it.”
Additionally, Florida law carries within it a legal presumption that potentially helps owners of trade secrets. That presumptions says that, if an entity proves that its information was “used in the operation of its business, that the information provided an advantage or the opportunity for an advantage, and” if the entity undertook “measures to prevent its disclosure,” then the law presumes that information to be a protected trade secret. The entity is not required to provide separate proof of “value.”
The Fort Lauderdale entity met all of these proof elements. The information in dispute was regularly used in its business to submit bid proposals and the entity took considerable efforts to shield that information from disclosure. The protected information was important to the entity’s winning contracts and disclosing the information would be harmful in that it would reveal the company’s “regional marketing and contracting strategies to its competitors.” This was all of the proof the entity needed to show that the information was a trade secret.
Protecting your trade secrets is just one part of an effective legal strategy for ensuring your business’s well-being. The diligent South Florida commercial litigation attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman proudly offer our services in helping clients advance and protect their many business interests through litigation and other legal avenues. Our attorneys have successfully handled a wide array of commercial litigation and business law matters and are ready to talk to you about your needs.
Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you.