Last time, we looked very briefly at some aspects of Wisconsin’s trade secret law. As we noted, trade secret protection is available not only at the state level, but also through the federal courts. Last year, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which created a federal cause of action for the protection of trade secrets. Prior to that, the only way to pursue trade secret protection in federal court was to qualify under special jurisdictional rules.
Under the Federal Trade Secrets Act, there are many similarities to state trade secret protection laws, but there are some differences and new features as well. One of these is that the federal law does not make use of the inevitable disclosure doctrine, under which an employer is able to prevent a former employee from working in a job in which he or she could make use of trade secrets without any evidence of threatened misappropriation. This means it may be harder under federal law for employers to forestall the spread of stolen trade secrets.