Mar 5, 2013
Is it a crime to take, copy or transmit someone else’s trade secrets?
The Texas Penal Code specifically addresses this question. Texas Penal Code section 31.05 (“Theft of Trade Secrets”) defines a trade secret as “the whole or any part of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula, or improvement that has value and that the owner has taken measures to prevent from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access for limited purposes.” Section 31.05 further provides in pertinent part that “A person commits an offense if, without the owner's effective consent, he knowingly: (1) steals a trade secret; (2) makes a copy of an article representing a trade secret; or (3) communicates or transmits a trade secret.” Theft of a trade secret is a third degree felony. The punishment for a third degree felony is a range of confinement from two to ten years, with the option of a fine not to exceed $10,000. See Tex. Penal Code § 12.34.