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When is it illegal to know trade secrets?

You guard the secrets of your Ohio-based business fiercely, and those secrets are instrumental in the viability and profitability of your enterprise. So when someone gains access to your trade secrets, they could stand to profit off the time and labor you put into acquiring that knowledge and perfecting your strategy. That person may be a rival or an employee. But is it illegal for anyone to simply know information about your business?

It depends on the method of acquisition. Per Ohio legal codes on trade secrets, when someone gains unauthorized access to and knowledge of trade secrets, this is known as misappropriation. Misappropriation can happen when someone knowingly commits a breach of trust by accessing information through physical or electronic espionage, or other deceptive practices. The person must have deliberately gained improper knowledge of your trade secrets; they may also have used them for self-advancement, or disclosed them to others to create a situation that may weaken your position as a business.

This can have a significant negative impact on your business by removing any competitive market advantage created by your trade secrets. You may be entitled to seek compensation for monetary losses caused by any breach of business confidentiality, comparable to estimated losses in market potential and profitability. Situations with trade secrets can be tricky, however. For instances, if you pursue action against a former business partner you must make sure that all trade secrets are yours to protect, rather than the product of joint labor and time.

This information has been provided for reference only, and is not actionable legal advice.

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