United States: 新联邦商业秘密法扩大商业秘密权利范围

随着2016版《保护商业秘密法案》("DTSA")的出台,"商业秘密"本周成为众人瞩目的焦点。针对商业秘密侵权行为,DTSA对商业秘密赋予了联邦民事保护,自此,商业秘密成为享受联邦保护的一种知识产权形式。根据该法案,商业秘密一旦被窃取,则该受害者有权在联邦地区法院就该商业秘密侵权行为提起诉讼。

2016年5月11日,奥巴马总统签署通过了DTSA。该法案更是在参议院和众议院分别获得87比0、410比2的压倒性投票支持。DTSA有助于美国企业在全球市场范围内对其商业秘密进行保护,这是大家的普遍共识,也是DTSA同时获得两党支持的原因。如今,数字存储信息的爆炸增加了商业秘密遭遇侵权的风险,而员工可以轻易地使用便携闪存驱动窃取公司商业秘密,从而用于非法目的,这更使得侵权风险达到前所未有的高度。

DTSA对保护全球竞争力尤为重要,因而获得美国各行各业的一致支持。有40多家公司和行业组织写信给国会以支持DTSA的制定,各行业代表也纷纷证明了这部新法的重要性。

DTSA的亮点

DTSA适用于:在州际商业活动或对外商业活动中,与使用的或意图使用的产品或服务相关的商业秘密纠纷。

州法律中规定的针对商业秘密的典型救济措施,在DTSA中全部适用,其中包括禁令、实际损失、不当得利、使用费、惩罚性损害赔偿和律师费。

DTSA还规定了一种新型民事救济措施——"单方查封财产",在此措施下,被申请人对于申请人的查封请求并不知情。该项措施一经推出便引起了广泛的关注。及时查封财产有助于打击侵权行为,并尽量减轻公司的损失。根据DTSA的规定,为防止商业秘密被传播出去,原告可以请求联邦地区法院在必要时下达指令,允许联邦执法人员对财产进行查封。原告提出的具体事实依据需满足以下八项要求:(1)禁令或其他公平救济措施不足以使其获得充分救济;(2)其受到不可弥补的损害;(3)通过对损害后果的权衡,偏向于支持申请人请求而非保护被申请人财产; (4)成功的可能性;(5)目标对象持有待查封的商业秘密和财产;(6)该查封请求合理描述了财产的细节;(7)若申请人事先通知,目标对象将销毁该财产;(8)对于向法院请求的该次查封,申请人尚未公开宣布。

该法规进一步明确了对查封令本身的要求,查封令应当包括对事实认定和法律结论的陈述。查封令的财产查封范围必须为相关情况下的最小查封范围,若任何人因查封令遭受损害,则其可在任何时间提出动议,以解除该查封令或对查封令的内容进行修改。除此以外,DTSA还规定了民事财产查封的许多相关程序规则。

DTSA明示拒绝采纳"不可避免披露原则"("Inevitable Disclosure doctrine")——该原则假定前员工将不可避免地在新工作中使用原雇主的商业秘密。相反,根据DTSA的规定,对于潜在的侵权行为法院是可以施加禁令予以阻止的。DTSA允许联邦地区法官"根据法院认为合理的条款"向个人施加禁令。但是DTSA也同样规定,禁令不能仅是宽泛地阻止任何人订立劳动合同关系。

若是出于报告或调查可能的违法行为的目的,而向政府官员或律师秘密地披露了商业秘密,则披露人免于承担披露商业秘密的责任。如果在诉讼中以不公开的形式披露商业秘密,或在反报复诉讼中披露商业秘密,则此类起诉书或其他文件也适用上述责任豁免。根据DTSA的要求,公司若签订商业秘密使用协议或其他保密信息使用协议,则应当在协议中规定豁免条款的通知义务。

DTSA对美国企业意味着什么?

作为一种备受青睐的知识产权保护方式、专利替代方法,DTSA法案的通过更加表明商业秘密发挥着越来越显著的作用,但同时也提醒我们,商业秘密侵权行为仍然是一个巨大的威胁。

公司应尤其关注对其商业秘密的保护。根据DTSA的规定,有六种类型的信息被视为商业秘密——金融、商业、科学、技术、经济和工程信息。DTSA明确列举了以下形式的商业秘密——图纸、计划、汇编、程序装置、配方、设计、技术原型、方法、技术、流程、步骤、项目或编码,无论其有形或无形,无论其是以物理、电子、图表、照相还是书面形式储存、汇编或记忆。需注意的是,某些形式的商业秘密不具有获得专利保护的资格。

公司应明确其商业秘密资产,再评估他们是否对其商业秘密采取了足够的安全保护措施。同时,对于本公司的商业秘密保护计划,公司还应考虑开展全面的审计工作,从而确保采取最佳方法来保护这些重要的知识产权资产。此外公司还应注意,确保公司本身并未不当地持有任何第三方的商业秘密。

结论

DTSA的颁布是一项重要里程碑。商业秘密的法律规范上升为联邦立法,也具有十分重要的意义。不论某一发明是作为专利还是商业秘密予以保护,联邦法院都完全具备裁定复杂知识产权案件的能力。"联邦传票权"有助于商业秘密案件中当事人进行证据开示,新增的查封条款也为某些符合条件的案件提供了及时而必要的救济措施。联邦法院能更加熟练地对跨境商业秘密纠纷进行监管。DTSA法案的通过很有可能会使公司更加依赖于商业秘密保护,也能够促进在全国范围内,建立更为统一化的商业秘密纠纷管理机制,这对美国的企业乃至各个行业来说,都将大有裨益。

公司需确保他们的劳动合同和不披露协议中规定了DTSA豁免条款的通知义务。关于雇主考虑对DTSA中的豁免保护通知进行规定的具体信息,请见众达文章:"2016年美国《联邦保护商业秘密法案》规定了雇主的新的通知义务。"

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