UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES & BUSINESS LITIGATION IN MARYLAND
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets and Proprietary Business Information and other Unlawful Business Practices that can lead to Litigation.
Maryland business lawyers and commercial litigation attorneys are often called upon to resolve business disputes involving products, software, technology, business techniques, client accounts and other business assets and future business opportunities. These business disputes often arise when companies reveal trade secrets and other proprietary business information to business partners, clients or employees out of necessity in order to conduct business or pursue business opportunities. Information technology businesses often share proprietary information with companies that have complimentary technical skills for purposes cooperating on research and development or combining skills to bid on government or private contracts. This article provides a brief overview of legal protections companies can take advantage of to protect their trade secrets as well as legal actions that can be taken when those agreements are breached.
Trade secrets and other proprietary information can cover a wide territory, including manufacturing processes, chemical formulations, software programs, methods, techniques as well as business strategies and client contact lists. Parties can enter contracts where they agree that specific information is proprietary. In some cases, even absent a contractual agreement, the law recognizes information as trade secrets, typically when it is not generally known or readily ascertainable to the public and actions have been taken to protect it from such disclosure.
When disclosing information considered trade secrets, companies often turn to contractual agreements to ensure maximum protection of their information. Contracts with employees, business partners and clients can contain non-disclosure, non-solicitation and non-competition provisions to protect trade secrets and other proprietary business information as well as to deter efforts that might otherwise be taken to lure away key employees and clients. Employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, confidentiality agreements, cooperative research and development agreements, and teaming agreements are often used for these purposes.
When business partners, clients, or employees usurp business opportunities, lure away key employees, or improperly misappropriate proprietary information for their own economic benefit, there may not only be a breach of contract claim but these actions may also constitute actionable business torts, such as Misappropriation of Trade Secrets (violation of the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act), Trademark, Copyrights and/or Patent Infringement, Unfair Competition, Tortious Interference with Contract, Tortious Interference with Prospective Advantage/Business Relationship, Wrongful Appropriation of Name or Likeness, Negligent Misrepresentation, Constructive Fraud, Intentional Misrepresentation & Concealment, Injurious Falsehood, Conversion, Civil Conspiracy, and Aiding & Abetting, among others.
In addition to damages and/or injunctive relief, attorney’s fees may be recovered if provided for in a contractual agreement, if available, or under the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act or other applicable law. For more information about protecting your business from misappropriation of trade secrets and other unfair business practices, contact one of the Maryland business litigation lawyers at Cowie & Mott, P.A.
2310 Boston Street, Baltimore, MD 21224 • Telephone: 410-327-3800 • Facsimile: 410-327-3801