Maryland Intellectual Property Rights Attorneys @ Cowie & Mott, P.A.
Maryland intellectual property attorneys are often called upon to resolve disputes involving the use or misuse of intellectual property, patented technology, trade secrets, trademarks, brand names and other proprietary business information, products and services. These disputes can arise as a result of misappropriation by third parties without permission, but also occur in situations where companies purposely share intellectual property, trade secrets and other proprietary information with customers for profit or with business partners or employees in order to pursue business opportunities. For example, technology companies often agree share proprietary information and enter into “teaming agreements” to take advantage of their complimentary technical skills for the purpose of pursuing research and development for a tech start up businesses or to bid on government contracts for information technology services. This article provides a brief overview of legal protections that Maryland intellectual property attorneys advise companies to utilize to protect proprietary business information in the form of legal agreements. Additionally, a brief discussion is provide concerning legal actions that can be taken when those agreements are breached.
Trade secrets and other proprietary information can encompass a wide variety of information, including manufacturing processes, biotechnology, chemical formulations, software programs and algorithms, biometrics data, business techniques and client contact information. To protect against misappropriation, parties can enter contracts where they agree how and to what extent specific they share with each other can be used. They can even agree that any specific information is proprietary and cannot be disclosed or otherwise used without written permission. In some cases, even absent a contractual agreement, the law recognizes confidential information as proprietary 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 or unlicensed use by others. Companies and business entrepreneurs often turn to contractual agreements with employees, business partners and clients that contain non-disclosure, non-solicitation and non-competition provisions to protect 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 attorneys at Cowie & Mott, P.A.