Protecting Your Companies Confidential/Proprietary Information And Trade Secrets
Most companies have information that they believe is confidential and proprietary to their business. Information, which in the wrong hands, such as the hands of a competitor, could be used to cause financial harm to the Company.

That information can include such things as: customer lists (both active and prospective); the identity, authority and responsibilities of key contacts of customers; customers’ specifications and other characteristics; operations documents, manuals, processes and guidelines; costing and/or pricing policies and related information, including profit margins; marketing documents and plans; business strategies, techniques and methodologies, including information respecting suppliers; financial information, including information set forth in internal records, files and ledgers, or incorporated into profit and loss statements, fiscal reports and business plans; vendor and supplier information, including key contacts and pricing information, volume discounts and most favored customer pricing; inventions, discoveries, devices, algorithms, computer hardware and computer software, including, without limitation, any source code, object code, documentation, diagrams, flow charts, know-how or techniques associated with the development or use of the foregoing computer software and/or customization of same; information about or concerning Customers and information which the Customer has identified as confidential and/or proprietary; employee compensation and benefits; and any other information, which is not generally known to the Company’s competitors, including, without limitation, information constituting trade secrets under governing trade secrets law.

Pennsylvania’s Uniform Trade Secret Act defines “trade secret” broadly to include “information, including a formula, drawing, pattern, compilation including a customer list, program, device, method, technique or process that:(1) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use. (2) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy”.

In applying the Pennsylvania Trade Secrets Act the Courts of this Commonwealth have protected information such as that described in the first paragraph, provided that the company seeking protection has undertaken reasonable means to maintain the secrecy of the information/documents. In other words, you cannot just assert confidentiality of information or documents, you must ACT in accordance with the assertion to protect the information from inappropriate disclosure, use and/or dissemination.

There are several reasonable methods that Companies can use to protect its confidential/proprietary information and trade secrets. If stored in hard copy, confidential/proprietary information and trade secrets should be protected by storing the information in a locked office and in a locked file cabinet and only those personnel with a legitimate business need to know should be granted access. The number of keys issued should be carefully monitored, including key numbers, to whom issued and the dates issued. A log should be kept anytime access is given to anyone who does not have a key, including the date, time, identify of the person requesting access and the reason for the requested access. Better yet secure the information by a keypad that is password protected and electronically records all entries.

All confidential/proprietary information and trade secrets that are stored electronically must be password protected so that only those limited personnel with a legitimate business reason to know are granted access. Passwords of any employee to be terminated or who voluntarily resigns should be immediately deactivated.

The Company should also have confidentiality of information policies, either in their employee handbooks or as stand-alone policies, but in either event, every company employee and officer should be required to sign an acknowledgement that he/she received the policy, reviewed the policy, understands the policy and agrees to be bound by the policy. The policy should clearly state that violation of the policy will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. All executed acknowledgements should be preserved in the personnel files.

Companies may also require employees and officers to sign non-use, non-disclosure agreements requiring the protection of identified confidential/proprietary information and trade secrets by the employee/director. These types of agreements are usually better received and generally enforced by the courts than are non-competition agreements as they do not deprive an employee of the opportunity to earn a living in the geographic area in which they reside. They simply prevent the employee/officer from doing so by using the protected information of the former employer.

In essence, the advice is simple. If you believe you have confidential/proprietary information and trade secrets that could cause financial harm to your business in the hands of a competitor than act reasonably to protect that information from inappropriate use and/or disclosure.

For further information, contact Kathleen Misturak- Gingrich, Esquire at 717.283.4963 (direct dial) or
Schools Can Now Issue Citations for Vaping on School Property.
With the increase of vaping among young people in recent years, and the health risks associated with the vaping, schools have been forced to revisit policies regarding tobacco/nicotine use amongst its students. Most school districts have updated policies that ban the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or more commonly referred to as e-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens or mods. Because of the popularity the brand JUUL, they are also referred to as JUULs. The use of these products has been considered a serious health epidemic among teens. 

In an effort to help combat this epidemic, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 97 into law on November 27, 2019. Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. §6306.1, school districts now the authority to issue summary citations to anybody who uses a tobacco product on school property. In doing so, Pennsylvania has also included e-cigarettes to the definition of a tobacco product.

Under the law, students can now be issued summary citations, by the school, for the use or possession of any tobacco product in any school building, school bus or vehicle or on any property owed or under the control of a school district.

Summary citations under 18 Pa. C.S.A. §6306.1 issued to students are handled differently than your typical summary citation. The maximum fine for this offense is $50. Unlike other summary citations, the fine is for the exclusive benefit of the school district. The magisterial district courts are also given the express authority to use alternatives to finding a student guilty of the offense. Alternatives often include, community service and/or educational programs designed to quit using tobacco products. 

Convictions of this offense are also handled differently than other offenses if a student is issued a citation. The use or possession of tobacco products by a student is not a criminal offense and will not result in a criminal record. 

In addition to students being issued citations, adults can also be cited by the district for using tobacco products on school property. One difference is that adults can only be cited for using the products while students can be cited for use or possession of the products. Although districts may designate areas where tobacco products can be used. However, the designated area must be at least 50 feet from any building, stadium or bleachers.

If you or your child has been cited by a school for the possession or use of e-cigarettes in Pennsylvania and need help, call us.
Work Life Balance
Ways to Help Your Employees Achieve a Better Work/Life Balance 
Employees who achieve a better work/life balance are usually happier and more productive. Some ways to help your employees achieve this include:

  • Encourage staff to take breaks.
  • Respect family time. Try to avoid communications after work hours.
  • Explore telecommuting options.
  • Offer flexible schedules, such as a four-day work week or split shift to accommodate workers’ needs.
  • Offer work-share or part-time work for positions that allow for it.
  • Provide paid time off benefits instead of just sick leave so that workers can address other needs when they arise. Encourage employees to take vacation time or other time off each year so that they do not get burnt out.
  • Model work/life balance for employees.
  • Allow employees to leave vacation messages so that they will not feel obligated to respond while away.
  • Sponsor occasional family events to encourage team building.
Meet Our Attorneys
Peter J. Russo
Kara W. Haggerty
David C. Dagle
Kathleen M. Gingrich
Megan Danielle Strait
Quick Ways to Reduce Stress
Too much stress can lead to a host of medical issues. Some ways to reduce stress quickly include:

Daily mediation may help you become more resilient to trust. Simply sit down, close your eyes and recite a positive mantra. Breathe in slowly.

Take Deep Breaths
Slowly inhale through your nose and feel as it slowly leaves your body. Focus on each part of your body as you do this. This method helps slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.

Be Present
It is easy in today’s world to get caught up in moving from one task to another. Try to be focused on the task that is in front of you and try to block out thoughts of other things.

Keep a journal in which you write down all of the things that you are grateful for each day.
How to Appear Smart in Your Big Meeting
1.        Draw a Venn diagram – Even if your diagram is inaccurate, you can bet on smarter colleagues interjecting about what labels to include and how large the circles should be.

2.        Translate percentages into fractions – When someone pipes up with a percentage, give the equivalent fraction. Your colleagues may be impressed with your conversion techniques.

3.        Repeat the last thing someone said, very slowly – If you say something slower than the engineer, IT guy or other technical person, it will look like it was your original thought. Even if it wasn’t.

4.        Ask the presenter to go back – If you ask the presenter to return to a previous slide, you will look like you are paying attention, even if there isn’t anything important on the slide. Others will wonder what they missed.
Fields of Law
  Here’s an overview of the fields of law our attorneys' practice.
• Criminal Law  

• Family Law  

• Real Estate Law  

• Business Law  

• Employment Law  

• Civil Litigation  

• Commercial Litigation  

• Workers' Compensation

Phone:  717-591-1755 | Toll Free:  888-743-4470 | Fax:  717-591-1756