2020 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 8 - Offenses Involving Theft
Article 1 - Theft
§ 16-8-13. Theft of Trade Secrets

Universal Citation: GA Code § 16-8-13 (2020)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term:
    1. "Article" means any object, material, device, substance, or copy thereof, including any writing, record, recording, drawing, sample, specimen, prototype, model, photograph, microorganism, blueprint, or map.
    2. "Copy" means any facsimile, replica, photograph, or other reproduction of an article and any note, drawing, or sketch made of or from an article.
    3. "Representing" means describing, depicting, containing, constituting, reflecting, or recording.
    4. "Trade secret" means information, without regard to form, including, but not limited to, technical or nontechnical data, a formula, a pattern, a compilation, a program, a device, a method, a technique, a drawing, a process, financial data, financial plans, product plans, or a list of actual or potential customers or suppliers which is not commonly known by or available to the public and which information:
      1. Derives 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; and
      2. Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
  2. Any person who, with the intent to deprive or withhold from the owner thereof the exclusive use of a trade secret, or with an intent to appropriate a trade secret to his or her own use or to the use of another, does any of the following:
    1. Takes, uses, or discloses such trade secret to an unauthorized person;
    2. Acquires knowledge of such trade secret by deceitful means or artful practice; or
    3. Without authority, makes or causes to be made a copy of an article representing such trade secret

      commits the offense of theft of a trade secret and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years and by a fine of not more than $50,000.00, provided that, if the value of such trade secret, and any article representing such trade secret that is taken, is not more than $100.00 such person shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.

  3. In a prosecution for any violation of this Code section, a court shall preserve the secrecy of an alleged trade secret by reasonable means, which may include granting protective orders in connection with discovery proceedings, holding in camera hearings, sealing the records of the action, and ordering any person involved in the litigation not to disclose an alleged trade secret without prior court approval.
  4. For the purposes of this Code section, a continuing theft by any person constitutes a single claim against that person, but this Code section shall be applied separately to the claim against each person who receives a trade secret from another person who committed the theft.
  5. This Code section shall not affect:
    1. Contractual duties or remedies, whether or not based on theft of a trade secret; or
    2. The provisions of Code Sections 10-1-761 through 10-1-767, pertaining to civil offenses and remedies involving the misappropriation of a trade secret, or other civil or criminal laws that presently apply or in the future may apply to any transaction or course of conduct that violates this Code section.

(Ga. L. 1965, p. 647, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1966, p. 425, §§ 1, 2, 5; Code 1933, § 26-1809, enacted by Ga. L. 1968, p. 1249, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 6, § 16; Ga. L. 1995, p. 1051, § 1.)

Cross references.

- Trade secrets, § 10-1-760 et seq.

Law reviews.

- For note, "Trade Secrets and Confidential Information Under Georgia Law," see 19 Ga. L. Rev. 623 (1984). For note, "Legal Remedies for Computer Abuse," see 21 Ga. St. B.J. 100 (1985).


Sufficient evidence to support conviction.

- There was legally sufficient evidence to support the defendant's conviction for theft of a trade secret under O.C.G.A. § 16-8-13 because the defendant, without authority, copied the master client list for the property management division of the defendant's employer and used the list to transfer or otherwise appropriate the employer's clients to the defendant's own new business. DuCom v. State, 288 Ga. App. 555, 654 S.E.2d 670 (2007), cert. denied, No. S08C0598, 2008 Ga. LEXIS 383 (Ga. 2008).

Cited in Duracell, Inc. v. SW Consultants, Inc., 126 F.R.D. 571 (N.D. Ga. 1989); Davis v. State, 322 Ga. App. 826, 747 S.E.2d 19 (2013).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 50 Am. Jur. 2d, Larceny, §§ 59, 67, 68.

Abandonment of Trade Secret, 41 POF2d 517.

Abandonment of Trade Secret, 100 POF3d 195.


- 52B C.J.S., Larceny, § 28.


- Individual criminal responsibility of officer or employee for larceny or embezzlement, through corporate act, of property of third person, 33 A.L.R. 787.

Implied obligation of employee not to use trade secrets or confidential information for his own benefit or that of third persons after leaving the employment, 165 A.L.R. 1453.

Nature of property or rights other than tangible chattels which may be subject of conversion, 44 A.L.R.2d 927.

What constitutes "loss from theft" within provisions of Internal Revenue Code concerning deduction of losses arising from theft, 62 A.L.R.2d 572.

Right of employee who has wrongfully appropriated trade secrets, in accounting for profits, to set off losses, 67 A.L.R.2d 825; 11 A.L.R.4th 12.

Implied obligation not to use trade secrets or similar confidential information disclosed during unsuccessful negotiations for sale, license, or the like, 9 A.L.R.3d 665.

Former employee's duty, in absence of express contract, not to solicit former employer's customers or otherwise use his knowledge of customer lists acquired in earlier employment, 28 A.L.R.3d 7.

Criminal liability for misappropriation of trade secret, 84 A.L.R.3d 967.

Disclosure of trade secret as abandonment of secrecy, 92 A.L.R.3d 138.

Proper measure and elements of damages for misappropriation of trade secret, 11 A.L.R.4th 12.

Disclosure or use of computer application software as misappropriation of trade secret, 30 A.L.R.4th 1250.

What is computer "trade secret" under state law, 53 A.L.R.4th 1046.

What is "trade secret" so as to render actionable under state law its use or disclosure by former employee, 59 A.L.R.4th 641.

What constitutes tax-deductible theft loss under 26 USCS § 165, 98 A.L.R. Fed. 229.

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