Los Angeles Trade Secret Theft Defense Lawyers
Also known as economic espionage, theft of a trade secret is a serious federal white-collar crime that has become more common as technology advances. The U.S. Attorney’s office has increased its efforts to fight economic espionage in response. This crime is not to be confused with insider trading, which is the illegal use of non-public material information for profit.
Basically, trade secrets are information that the owner has taken reasonable measures to keep secret and that has actual or potential independent economic value because it is not generally known or easily found out. A person can only be prosecuted for theft or misappropriation of a particular trade secret, not for general knowledge or skills acquired while working for a company.
Theft of trade secrets is prohibited under 18 U.S. Code Section 1832. This law was enacted to help protect companies from losing valuable information and crucial innovation advances to other companies or countries. The elements of this crime that the prosecution must prove are:
- The defendant obtained, conveyed, or destroyed information without the owner’s permission.
- Defendant knew the information was proprietary.
- The information was in fact, a trade secret.
- The defendant intended to transfer the trade secret for the economic benefit for someone other than the owner.
- Defendant knew or intended that the owner of the trade secret would be injured.
- The trade secret was included in or related to a product that was produced or placed in interstate or foreign commerce.
Federal law imposes heavy penalties upon conviction of theft of a trade secret. Individuals convicted of this crime are facing not more than 10 years imprisonment, fines, or both. An organization convicted of this offense is fined not more than the greater of $5 million or three times the value to the organization of the stolen trade secret. This value includes research and design expenses and costs of reproducing the trade secret that the organization has avoided by committing the theft.
Trade secrets are only valuable because of their confidential and proprietary status. Defenses against charges of trade secret theft are often related to the trade secret itself. Reverse engineering of a process or method is not trade secret theft. Neither is the parallel development of an idea or product.
If the defendant did not know beforehand that the information was proprietary, did not intend to use the trade secret to produce an economic benefit for someone other than the owner, or did not know or intend that the owner would be injured by the defendant’s actions, the crime of theft of a trade secret was not committed. The prosecution must prove every element of the crime to obtain a conviction.
You are facing severe penalties if convicted of theft of trade secret charges. Trade secrets criminal cases are typically very technical and complex. Your best chance of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case is to have an experienced attorney in your corner to implement an effective strategy for your defense.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we have decades of experience handling the most complex, high-stakes criminal cases. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are highly skilled in introducing reasonable doubt to help you avoid conviction. We specialize in handling matters of great personal consequence to our clients. Call us at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free initial consultation if you are under investigation or have already been charged with theft or misappropriation of trade secrets.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.