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Trade secrets theft and Washington law

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Business Litigation |

Trade secrets theft is a troublesome concern for many Washington businesses. These companies base their entire strategy on certain developments that have allowed them to gain a competitive advantage. Losing those developments through theft can sink their entire business model. As a result, state governments have stepped in to protect businesses from this illicit activity. The Washington Uniform Trade Secrets Act (WUTSA) is one of many examples of laws designed to promote fair competition and protect company secrets.

What it is

The WUTSA is a law that has resulted in frequent business litigation and that prohibits a wide variety of actions related to trade secrets. These secrets are defined as information that is used by a company to forward their business and is not generally available to the public. The law also protects information that companies treat as secret. Individuals and companies are not allowed to sell these secrets or to acquire them in an illicit manner.

Companies are also not allowed to share material that they either know or should know is a trade secret. According to this law, individuals can share trade secrets via “improper means” or “misappropriation.” Using “improper means” is more serious and may lead to more severe penalties. It shows actual malice in stealing secrets and then sharing them in a way that harms the original company involved.


There are several remedies provided for by the WUTSA. Injunctive relief is often one of the most effective responses from courts. The injunction orders individuals or companies to stop sharing a particular trade secret. They can be fined or face other severe penalties for violating injunctions.

The WUTSA also allows for fines against companies or individuals for proven violations of the law. Finally, the law provides for attorneys’ fees to be awarded in some cases. Hopefully, the threat of injunction and fines will deter the vast majority of parties from harming business operations and slowing down commerce in the state of Washington.