News

Customer lists, business records added to trade secrets statute

Q&A with Cliff Dougherty

published in The Oklahoman | November 25, 2009

McAfee & Taft intellectual property attorney Cliff Dougherty was interviewed for an Oklahoman feature about Senate Bill 1013 which became effective November 1.  The bill amends section 1732 of the penal code of the State of Oklahoma adding “customer lists” and “business records” to the definition of trade secrets under the statute that imposes criminal liability for the theft of trade secrets.

When asked what is a trade secret, Dougherty explained “In general, a trade secret can be anything that has independent economic value (e.g., that gives its owner a competitive advantage) and is maintained as a secret.”  Using propriety manufacturing techniques, product formulas and marketing information as examples, he went on to say the loss or misappropriation of these and other intangible assets is estimated to cost U.S. companies billions of dollars a year.

Also included in the bill are additions to the definitions “copy” and “article.”  The bill, which was introduced by Senator Dan Newberry, is intended to help protect the rights of businesses and business owners by strengthening our laws.  The crime in this case is larceny, according to Dougherty, and “the value of the trade secret, as opposed to the value of the article itself, controls whether the larceny is grand larceny or petit larceny.”