Intellectual Property Issues And Business
Disputes over the theft, misuse or misappropriation of a business’ intellectual property can take many forms. One of the most common fact scenarios involves a business’ former employee or partner who has accessed or maintained confidential business records to start a competitive business.
Additionally, a dispute may arise where two separate businesses or individuals have discussed or shared confidential information and one of them has shared or used the information in violation of a non-disclosure agreement.
Florida Law, Trade Secrets And Misappropriation
Florida law prohibits the theft and misappropriation of protected trade secrets under Florida Statute 688.01 et seq. The statute generally requires a plaintiff seeking legal protection to plead and prove that a defendant has somehow “misappropriated” a protected trade secret.
Misappropriation has a specific meaning under the statute. The definition of a trade secret is fairly broad, but the plaintiff has the burden of showing that the alleged trade secret has independent value and was reasonably protected by the plaintiff. Important facets of Florida intellectual property law include:
- The statute permits the successful plaintiff to receive injunctive relief preventing ongoing use by the defendant, monetary damages and attorney’s fees.
- If the misappropriation was willful and malicious additional “exemplary” damages are also available. In addition to seeking or obtaining relief under the statute, litigation could be based on the breach of a contract such as a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement.
- Under such a claim the actual or potential relief would be dictated by the terms of the contract as well as under applicable law.
- In addition to misappropriation of trade secrets, intellectual property litigation could or may involve a claim of unfair competition, copyright, trademark, trade name or service mark infringement. Generally, such claims exist where there is a prior owner or user of a particular type of intellectual property which has acquired a secondary meaning and someone else is using it or a similar mark/name in a confusingly similar way in competition with the owner/prior user.
Those who are sued for theft, misappropriation, unfair competition or infringement have a number of available defenses. It is advisable that business owners, entrepreneurs and executives involved in intellectual property issues consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand their rights and options.
Get The Infringement Guidance You Need
Contact a Florida business litigation attorney at Brick Business Law, P.A., for a free consultation to discuss and review your options. Call 813-280-0266 / 727-291-7725 or send the firm an inquiry email about your issue.