When businesses split up, one law departing owners and managers often fail to consider is the South Carolina Trade Secrets Act. This law plays a prominent role in determining what information belongs to the entity and what those departing may use or take with them. In addition to defining what is considered a “trade secret” in South Carolina, the Act provides powerful remedies for the misappropriation, use, or disclosure of protected information. This includes not only punitive damages, but also attorney fees and costs, which can be significant in disputes of this size. Again, what some people are told by friends is acceptable in terms of taking information is not consistent with current legal precedents.
We have handled many cases in which a departing owner or manager takes a number of steps (e.g. copying off contact information, speaking to customers) before departing. In many instances, had the business or individual sought an attorney’s advice before they started taking actions, handling the dispute would have been much cheaper in the long run.
If you believe that issues may be brewing in your business or there are “storm clouds on the horizon,” it is time to step back and seek counsel. We have seen many cases where, for example, one intemperate, poorly-thought out email can be extremely costly in litigation. For many business owners, a growing dispute that may jeopardize the business is an extremely stressful time. At Stephenson & Murphy, we have been through such situations with many clients and can help you devise a strategy for moving forward so steps taken today can prevent much larger problems down the road. If you find yourself already embroiled in litigation, we would appreciate the opportunity to explain how our experience in handling business disputes will provide you with the representation you need to achieve the best possible outcome.
To consult with a business litigation attorney, contact Stephenson & Murphy, LLC.