The Uniform Trade Secrets Act, La. 51:1431, et seq., provides a cause of action for misappropriation of a trade secret. However, it is important to recognize that these are specific terms which must be satisfied in order to trigger the remedies provided in the Act.

A trade secret is defined as information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, technique or process that (a) derives independent economic value from not being generally known to and not being readily ascertainable by a proper means by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use and (b) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy. Both elements must be satisfied in order to be a trade secret and possibly have protection of the Act. For example, a formula, process or customer list that is not to be generally known and derives economic benefit there from may satisfy the first element of the definition. However, reasonable steps must be taken to keep it secret like limiting access to only key personnel and requiring confidentiality agreements in order to be cloaked with the benefits of this Act. For example, a court held that the identity of clients did not constitute a trade secret since the computer in which the information was allegedly kept had no access code to restrict entry and there was no evidence of any contractual agreements regarding confidentiality of business information or restricting competition.

The second key definition is misappropriation. This term is defined as the acquisition of a trade secret of another person who knows or has reason to know that it was acquired by improper means or disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret, or at the time of disclosure knew or had reason to know that his knowledge was derived from a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it. In any action, a plaintiff will have to prove that the party receiving the information wrongfully breached a duty of trust or confidence by disclosing or using the information to the injury of the plaintiff.

Thus, how any supposed trade secret is handled is very important. Evidence regarding use of confidentiality agreements, where the secret information is retained, the process whereby the supposed defendant acquired it, will all be subject to scrutiny by any Court in determining whether a claim is actionable. Businesses should consider whether their efforts to maintain secrecy are reasonable before any supposed misappropriation occurs so as to be covered by this Act.

For more information, contact Sonny Chastain at 225.389.3706 or