Trade Secrets

Protecting trade secrets isn’t just a legal issue. Proper protection implicates multiple functions across an organization, from research and development to human resources, from information technology to sales. McGuireWoods’ full-service trade secrets team embraces that business reality to meet each client’s unique industry needs, strategic goals and risk tolerance level.

Lawyers on McGuireWoods’ trade secrets team focus on every aspect of protecting and enforcing trade secrets rights in the United States. Our experience and multidisciplinary approach enable us to provide clients with end-to-end solutions to protect and enforce their trade secrets, and defend against claims of trade secrets misappropriation.

Our services address all points on the trade secrets spectrum — audits, compliance, incident response, litigation and government investigations. We tailor comprehensive client-specific strategies to protect innovation, develop or strengthen information security protocols, and quickly respond to trade secrets threats to minimize risk or damage. The former government prosecutors on our team add leverage by working in tandem with law enforcement agencies responding to trade secrets incidents.

We understand that while trade secrets protection is critical in virtually every sector, internal systems and processes, job titles and functions, and technologies and innovations differ across industries and impact the protection of proprietary information and offensive and defensive strategies related to misappropriated information. Central to our team strategy, we follow an industry-focused approach allowing us to see trade secrets issues holistically and leverage trends and best practices that best fit each client.

Audit and Compliance Programs

Our team assists clients with conducting trade secrets assessments and internal reviews to enhance their trade secrets protection.

We audit trade secrets protection programs to assess risk factors, devise and strengthen policies and processes, and establish frameworks for continually protecting proprietary information. McGuireWoods’ breadth of experience and technical knowledge allow us to efficiently identify areas of vulnerability, implement effective policies and procedures, draft enforceable noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants, and advise on the best modes to protect intellectual property.

The firm provides a broad range of services:

Employment Policies, Procedures and Agreements. Protecting trade secrets is an integral part of effective and comprehensive employee relations. We evaluate a client’s policies, procedures and related agreements to ensure trade secrets and other proprietary and confidential information are protected during employment and after termination. This includes preparing, reviewing and negotiating employment agreements, restrictive covenant and confidentiality agreements, policies and procedures to protect client information and data, as well as auditing compliance procedures to ensure employees take the necessary steps to protect information.

Intellectual Property. The federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and evolving jurisprudence on patent-eligible subject matter have changed how companies approach protecting and enforcing intellectual property. We understand the implications of patent procurement and trade secrets protection, and guide clients through the risks and rewards of each in their particular lines of business to develop comprehensive innovation protection strategies.

Data Privacy and Security. Data protection issues affect every aspect of an organization’s information management life cycle. We ensure policies and procedures are designed to minimize nefarious and inadvertent misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary information. Lawyers review and advise on information and records management policies, vendor contracts, data retention policies, data destruction policies and procedures, privacy and social media policies, and website terms of use.

Litigation, Investigations and Incident Response

McGuireWoods helps clients protect themselves from domestic and international trade secrets threats, and devise comprehensive response strategies to minimize imminent risks, such as cybersecurity breaches and trade secrets theft.

Our trade secrets litigation team includes trial lawyers with extensive experience prosecuting and defending bet-the-company trade secrets matters, and they have won some of the nation’s most high-profile trade secrets matters. Our trade secrets litigators dedicate their practices to this area of the law.

Trade secrets litigation involves imminent risk and unquantifiable damages that necessitate nearly instantaneous action. McGuireWoods’ trial lawyers focus on prosecuting and defending these hypertechnical, high-pressure disputes. They excel at handling the extraordinary rigors of these cases, which often require expedited injunctions and/or trial settings.

The former state and federal prosecutors on our team afford clients greater protection by working with government law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Government involvement provides invaluable leverage necessary to resolve trade secrets disputes, particularly when they implicate sovereigns or foreign citizens or entities.

Our former prosecutors also draw on experience responding to cybersecurity risks. We leverage our firm’s government investigations and data privacy and security knowledge to ensure the regulatory aspects of litigation are incorporated into our services.

Where appropriate, our litigation team also works alongside McGuireWoods’ appeals and issues team, which includes 11 former U.S. Supreme Court clerks, to achieve successful interlocutory appeals, writs of mandamus and final appeals.

We understand that protracted litigation is not appropriate for all disputes and does not always best serve clients’ needs. We pride ourselves on devising litigation strategies that meet clients’ objectives in an efficient and cost-effective manner. While our deep bench of trade secrets lawyers gives us the capacity to outpace the opposition, we temper our approach to implement the strategies that advance clients’ business interests and objectives.

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