On May 11, President Obama signed the brand-new Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA). This new legislation establishes a federal trade secrets law and has the added benefit of protecting corporate whistleblowers.
With this law, whistleblowers who disclose trade secrets to federal, state or local government officials or to an attorney for the sole purpose of investigating potential legal violations will be protected from any backlash. Such disclosures are also protected if whistleblowers make them during the course of a lawsuit or other proceeding, as long as the disclosure is made privately.
For example, a whistleblower who files an anti-retaliation lawsuit against a current or former employer could disclose company trade secrets to his or her attorney. That trade secret information may be used during court proceedings, as long as that secret is kept under seal.
Under the DTSA, employers are also required to notify their employees of these rights to disclose and use trade secrets in these circumstances.
Additionally, the law will make trade secret laws regarding trade secrets uniform with a single federal statute, which will make laws easier to develop and predict nationwide. Any existing laws, however, will not be preempted by the implementation of the DTSA — it simply adds a layer of federal law.
Thanks to the various federal whistleblower protection programs and other laws that have been established over the past several years, there are now more protections in place for whistleblowers than ever before. It has also become more important for businesses and organizations to develop processes to respond to whistleblower complaints swiftly and effectively.
For further guidance on this important issue, contact the experienced Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers.