A violation of trade secrets occurs when another obtains or exploits the secret information using unfair methods. Breaking into a competitor’s plant or bribing employees would be obvious violations. Likewise, breaching a confidentiality agreement or inducing a former employee to breach a confidentiality agreement could be violations. Reverse engineering a product that was purchased commercially is not a trade secret violation.
Trade secret violations are enforced by way of a civil action in the state courts. Claims of trade secret violation may also be made in federal courts when coupled with other claims.