Previously in this series we’ve discussed the new Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA); how it can help small business owners and entrepreneurs protect their Trade Secrets, and how it will affect every else doing business in California. (See our resources page to links to these posts.)
Today we will start exploring the new tools available under the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). Its important to remember that these new tools affect all businesses, not just those who think they have trade secrets to defend.
As we discussed last week, trade secrets are a type of Intellectual Property protection. The courts define “trade secret” very broadly. It can mean any type of confidential or secret information that gives a business a competitive edge. Some examples of trade secrets: survey methods used by professional pollsters; formula for a sports drinks; recipes; a new but unpatented invention; manufacturing techniques; marketing strategies; and computer code or algorithms. Trade secrets can even mean a good prospect list or supply chain. Trade secrets are any valuable business information that is not generally known.
Trade secrets are a type of Intellectual Property protection. Many small businesses assume that unless they are a high tech company or an inventor, the concept of “trade secrets” does not apply to them. However, the idea of a trade secret has always been defined very broadly. It can mean any type of confidential or secret information that gives a business a competitive edge. The most famous trade secret in the business world is the recipe for Coca Cola.
A worker must be making a yearly salary of at least twice the current minimum wage in order to qualify as an exempt employee. Because the minimum wage is changing, that will also affect the definition of which employees are exempt. This will be complicated and challenging for the next few years, because not only will the minimum wage change every year, but there will be a different minimum wage for smaller sized businesses (25 employees or fewer), than for larger businesses. So if you have any employees in the $40k to $50K range, you should make sure that they have not dropped below the exempt employee requirements. If your worker suddenly goes from exempt to non-exempt, you will have several new responsibilities and requirements to follow for the worker’s time and schedule.