Trade Secret Litigation – an Updated Overview

Journal of the Missouri Bar
January 1, 2015 Publications

Introduction
Trade secret litigation often involves “high stakes” or “bet-the-business” cases. For example, in July 2014, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict totaling more than $31 million in actual and punitive damages for misappropriation of trade secrets. In 2007, in another case involving the misappropriation of trade secrets, the 8th Circuit affirmed a jury verdict totaling more than $2 million in actual and punitive damages. And as far back as 2004, the 8th Circuit upheld an award of punitive damages in another trade secrets case, which it remitted to $7 million. Because trade secrets have tremendous value to businesses, the protections provided by the Missouri Uniform Trade Secrets Act (MUTSA) can be critical to one’s clients.

Missouri Uniform Trade Secrets Act 
A. Overview 
Although trade secrets are an important category of intellectual property, their treatment under the law differs from other familiar types of intellectual property. Unlike patent law, which predicates protection on novelty and non-obviousness, trade secret laws focus on the secrecy and value of information and “are meant to govern commercial ethics.” Accordingly, “[t]rade secret protection does not shield an idea from ‘infringing’ other uses of the idea; instead it protects valuable information from being misappropriated despite reasonable efforts to keep it secret.”

In addition, unlike patents, copyrights and trademarks, which are protected by federal law, trade secret rights generally are protected by the laws of each individual state. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in 1979, codifying the principles of common law trade secret protection. Since then, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted some form of the act. Missouri adopted its version of the act – the MUTSA – in 1995.

Since its adoption, the MUTSA has proved to be a valuable addition to Missouri businesses’ arsenal for protecting their competitively sensitive information. The pervasive use of mobile computing and data storage devices and the increasing ease with which information can be copied, stored and disclosed (whether intentionally or inadvertently) has made trade secret misappropriation more common. The MUTSA’s flexible remedial provisions make it an especially effective tool for protecting easily misappropriated electronic information. The MUTSA provides remedies for misappropriation and threatened misappropriation of a company’s trade secrets, including but not limited to theft by employees who may not be subject to a non-compete agreement. Pursuant to the MUTSA, a plaintiff may be entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, and/or injunctive relief if the plaintiff can prove actual or threatened misappropriation of a trade secret by the defendant.

Read more...Journal of The Missouri Bar

Contact Us
  • Worldwide
  • Boston, MA
  • Denver, CO
  • Edwardsville, IL
  • Jefferson City, MO
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • St. Louis, MO
Worldwide
abstract image of world map
Boston, MA
225 Franklin Street
26th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Google Maps
Boston, Massachusetts
Denver, CO
4643 S. Ulster St.
Suite 800
Denver, CO 80237
Google Maps
Denver, Colorado
Edwardsville, IL
115 N. Second St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Google Maps
Edwardsville, Illinois
Jefferson City, MO
3405 W. Truman Boulevard
Suite 210
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Google Maps
Jefferson City, Missouri
Kansas City, MO
2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 1500
Kansas City, MO 64108
Google Maps
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, NV
3770 Howard Hughes Parkway
Suite 200
Las Vegas, NV 89169
Google Maps
Las Vegas, Nevada
New York, NY
919 Third Ave., 37th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Google Maps
New York City
Philadelphia, PA
2005 Market Street
29th Floor, One Commerce Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Google Maps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Princeton, NJ
100 Overlook Center
Second Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540
Google Maps
Princeton, New Jersey
Salt Lake City, UT
257 East 200 South
Suite 350
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Google Maps
Salt Lake City, Utah
St. Louis, MO
7700 Forsyth Blvd.
Suite 1800
St. Louis, MO 63105
Google Maps
St. Louis, Missouri