On May 11, 2016, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 took effect. The effect of its effectiveness? Almost all new trade secrets cases will either start in federal court, or they will wind up there once the defendant removes it from state court. Key parts of the new law include these:
Cause of action. “An owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action under this subsection if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” DTSA, 18 U.S.C. 1836(b)(1).
Seizure orders. The court may issue seizure orders and may act ex parte in some cases. DTSA 1836(b)(2).
Relief. Injunctions; actual damages, disgorgement, or reasonable royalty; and in some cases exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees. DTSA 1836(b)(3).
Federal jurisdiction. U.S. district courts “shall have original jurisdiction of civil actions brought under this section.” DTSA 1836(c).
Limitations period. Three years after discovery of the misappropriation. DTSA 1836(d). Some cases will stay in state court — mainly ones that don’t involve “interstate or foreign commerce” and ones in which a defendant raises a state law trade secrets counterclaim.