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Intellectual property litigation: A bit about trade secrets

There are four basic types of intellectual property. In a previous post, this column addressed copyrights. This week, the topic will focus on trade secrets. A bit about intellectual property litigation and its benefit to Colorado business owners will also be discussed as well.

Trade secrets are any information that gives one's business an economic advantage over his or her competitors. This can be a number of things. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the following are considered trade secrets:

  • Formulas
  • Patterns
  • Programs
  • Techniques
  • Processes
  • Devices
  • Compilations

The United States government does offer trade secret protection unless the property owner releases this information on his or her own, the information becomes generally known or it is independently discovered. In other words, trade secrets are only protected if they are used without one's authorization. If there are concerns about misappropriation, one may take the issue to court.

Intellectual property litigation may be pursued if one believes his or her trade secrets are being used without consent. If one is able to prove that, the court may order the offending party to pay royalties, damages, legal fees and court costs. Intellectual property litigation is complicated and time-consuming. However, there are certainly times where it is an appropriate course of action. Colorado business owners who believe that their trade secrets have been violated in some way can turn to an experienced attorney to learn what the options are in terms of seeking compensation and stopping the unauthorized use of their property.

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