Arizona Criminalizes Theft of Trade Secrets

On April 22, 2014, Governor Brewer signed House Bill 2567 into law criminalizing the theft of another’s trade secret. New Arizona Revised Statute §13-1820 reads: a person commits theft of a trade secret if, with intent to deprive or withhold exclusive control, the person (i) takes, alters, or conceals another’s trade secret, (ii) copies it, or (iii) possesses the trade secret knowing it was obtained in violation of (i) or (ii) above. It is not a defense to prosecution that the person returned (or intended to return) the trade secret.  Violating the statute is a class five felony. A.R.S. §13-1820 includes a definition of trade secret that closely mirrors Arizona’s Uniform Trade Secret Act (A.R.S. §44-401).  While the new statute appears to provide greater protection to Arizona businesses, whether a company’s secrets constitute “trade secrets” worthy of civil, and now criminal, protection is not black and white. Savvy business owners will take heed and consult with their legal counsel to put procedures in place to protect their proprietary information.

See the October 23, 2013 article discussing recent trade secret case law and what steps Arizona businesses need take to gain full advantage of those protections.