On May 11, 2016, the Defense of Trade Secrets Act (DTSA0 was signed into law amending the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. While most employers hardly took note of this, the new law may provide an essential tool to protect companies against trade secret misappropriation.

While most states, including Florida, already have enacted trade secret legislation, the DTSA does not eliminate or preempt state law remedies, but rather acts as a supplement granting employers access to federal court and providing uniformity across the patchwork of state laws.
In addition to reinforcing the availability of equitable remedies, damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees, the DTSA also includes a new extraordinary remedy of an ex parte seizure order in certain circumstances. Now the DTSA requires that employers provide notice of immunity and retaliation provisions to employees, consultants, and independent contractors in any contract, agreement or employee handbook after May 11, 2016.

Given the federalization of this law, employers should contact legal counsel for guidance in revising or creating any employment-related document that governs the use of trade secrets or other confidential information to include the required notice and for assistance in establishing a reporting policy that incorporates the required notice.

– Nancy Johnson