Trade secrets are important for many companies throughout California. Businesses develop strategies that they use to stay competitive and they work hard to keep these strategies from getting out. California’s court system supports the right of companies to keep these trade secrets.
In fact, trying to acquire these secrets can lead to criminal charges under California Penal Code Section 499c: Theft of Trade Secrets. The Simmrin Law Group can help you review the definition of PC 499c charges, the effects of a conviction, and legal defenses for theft of trade secrets accusations.
The Definition of Trade Secrets in California
Let’s go over trade secrets before we move on to discussing PC 499c charges. Trade secrets are defined in California’s legal system as pieces of information that a company works to keep secret because it’s status as a secret has an economic value. Examples of trade secrets can include:
- Formulas, Patterns, or Compilations
- Programs or Devices
- Methods, Techniques, or Processes
For example, a blend of special herbs and spices used by a certain restaurant when making their fried chicken could be considered a trade secret.
Go Over the Uses of PC 499c Charges
PC 499c is used to prosecute individuals for the theft of trade secrets. According to this legal code, individuals commit theft of trade secrets in California by:
- Stealing, Carrying Away, or Taking a Trade Secret
- Fraudulently Working to Claim a Trade Secret Belongs to Them
- Gaining Access to a Trade Secret and Copying It
Individuals must act unlawfully and without authorization to face charges for the theft of trade secrets. Note that individuals should only face PC 499c charges if they take a trade secret with the goal of:
- Depriving or Withholding Control of the Trade Secret from its Lawful Owner OR
- Using the Trade Secret Personally or Giving It to Someone Else to Use
Examples of Theft by Trade Secrets
Strengthen your understanding of PC 499c charges by going over these examples:
Man A has an idea for a tech startup, but he thinks he needs a secret strategy used by a larger company to get started. He goes to work for the larger company and uses his position to take a trade secret to use in his own business. He could be charged under PC 499c.
Man B wants is offered a lot of money to steal a trade secret from one soda company for a different soda company. He is very technologically savvy and hacks into the company, bypassing their security to access the data he wants. He then sells the trade secret. If he gets caught, he could face PC 499c charges.
Focus on the Results of a Theft of Trade Secrets Conviction
The theft of trade secrets doesn’t always involve stealing a physical object. However, it is still treated as a felony-level offense in California’s court system. Individuals who are convicted of violating PC 499c can face the following penalties:
- Fines: Up to $5,000
- Jail Time: Up to Three Years
Charges Similar to the Theft of Trade Secrets
The state of California uses two major charges to prosecute general acts of theft. These charges include:
Other theft crime charges that resemble the theft of trade secrets can include:
- Penal Code Section 459: Burglary
- Penal Code Section 470: Forgery
- Penal Code Section 503: Embezzlement
Review Defenses for Theft of Trade Secrets Charges
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles may be able to help build your defense if you are accused of the theft of trade secrets. Getting professional help on your side quickly can increase your chances of beating these charges. Your lawyer could be able to demonstrate that:
You Didn’t Take a Trade Secret
We covered the definition of trade secrets earlier. If the item or information that you took could not be considered a trade secret, you should not be convicted under PC 499c. You could still end up facing different criminal charges in California.
You Didn’t Take a Trade Secret with an Act of Theft
You could have gained access to a trade secret without committing an act of theft in the state of California. If your actions could not be considered theft, you could avoid a PC 499c conviction.
Call Legal Professionals to Handle PC 499c Charges
Make sure you’re ready to take on California Penal Code Section 499c: Theft of Trade Secrets charges. You can start building your defense now by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. Reach out to us today to get a FREE case evaluation.
You can easily contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers by calling (310) 896-2723 or filling out our online contact form.