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.
For businesses, protecting valuable business information is important in order to ensure competitors are not allowed to unjustly benefit from the business’ innovation and hard work. There are a variety of tools businesses can use to protect valuable information from competitors. Some of these protections are more formal, such as restrictive covenants and intellectual property protections like patents. Some of the available protections are less formal, like trade secrets.
Last time, we began looking at recent court decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dealing with an issue that is currently the subject of a split among federal courts: whether employees who report suspected violations of the Dodd-Frank Act are covered by that law’s whistleblower protections. As we noted, the court broadened the law’s whistleblower protections to include internal whistle-blowing.
We’ve been looking in recent posts at the topic of whistleblower protections, and the issue of protected activity. As we’ve noted, exactly what activity is protected depends on the specific law under which the violations are reported, and the jurisdiction in which whistleblower protection is sought.
Last time, we began looking at the issue of non-compete agreements in Wisconsin. As we noted, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is among those who feel that excessive use and enforcement of non-compete agreements stifles innovation in Wisconsin.