Colorado Trade Secrets Part 2: A Colorado trade secret owner's Bill of Rights
The most common trade secrets scenario Mallon Lonnquist sees is where a former employee discloses confidential information at their new employer or a competitor. The second most common trade secret scenario we see are current employees seeking to understand the parameters of their non-disclosure agreements, evaluating any restrictions on their ability to start a new venture. We begin our review of both scenarios with the following two fundamental rights of Colorado Trade Secret Owners:
- The right to prevent unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets.
- The right to prevent unauthorized use of trade secrets.
Against whom can these rights be asserted?
Often, trade secret claims are brought against close (or former) business colleagues, partners, joint-venturers, or employees to whom the business owner originally disclosed the trade secrets in order to unlock their commercial value. The requirements for non-disclosure in these instances are usually outlined in contracts between the parties such as employment, confidentiality, non-disclosure, and certain types of non-compete agreements [link].
While people who are contractually prohibited from disclosing trade secrets are the most commonly defendants in litigation, anyone who has learned a Colorado trade secret can be prevented from disclosing that secret. A common example of a third-party targeted to prevent the use or disclosure of a trade secret is a new company that was started by a former employee. Under certain circumstances, the Colorado trade secret owner maintains its trade secret rights against such third parties even if there is no direct confidentiality agreement with them. It is enough that the third-party came to know the trade secret.
Exploring the full scope of the Colorado trade secrets owner's rights to prevent disclosure and unauthorized use begins with an in-depth look at the actual trade secret, its protections, and evidence of the unauthorized disclosure. Mallon Lonnquist analyzes all new cases with a look at these two basic rights and employ tools including litigation to enforce or define the scope of these rights when necessary.
Mallon & Lonnquist, LLC, is a business and real estate law firm. Reed F. Morris is a Colorado a litigation attorney with Mallon & Lonnquist, based in Denver, Colorado. Reed regularly represents businesses and individuals in transactions in and commercial disputes and can be reached at email@example.com.
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