Q: This pertains to IP infringement law. Please see "more information" below for the details. Thanks a lot for the service


I am a US citizen and used to work for a company in NH. I spent over a decade there and then decided to move on to start my own company. FYI, I have never had any non competes or any NDAs with the company.

The issue at hand is about an electronics idea that they consider a trade secret. It is NOT patented.

After research over the years, i found out that this very idea appeared in a 1975 paper. So there is no novelty there.

After leaving the company, i moved overseas. I have also improved a lot upon that "idea" and I am ready to launch offerings based on it, under my new foreign company.

I would like to know what recourse, if any, they might have against me or my company. Can they prevent me from using the idea or have an injunction against my company eventhough it will be a foreign company and even though there is no novelty.

Thank you

1 Lawyer Answer
Daniel Michael Luisi
Daniel Michael Luisi
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer

A: This depends, as usual, upon a review of the detailed facts regarding the alleged "trade secret" in your case. In general, a trade secret has three parts: (1) information (2) economic value from not being generally known by others, and (3) reasonable efforts have been taken to protect the trade secret. Courts look at numerous factors to determine if information should be considered a trade secret. You may be looking at a potentially very costly lawsuit from your former employer, not to mention damages awards of lost profits and court injunctions if you proceed without carefully evaluating your situation. Are you sure you want to fill out all your applications for financing from venture capital or banks without assessing this situation first? Your investors might not be very happy if you are found to have concealed the fact that your new company has misappropriated your former employer's trade secrets. You may be right regarding the idea's disclosure in the 1975 paper. I think you should have a qualified IP attorney review the situation first rather than gambling and possibly opening yourself up for significantly liability by proceeding blindly without intelligently assessing your legal exposure.

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