Trade Secrets

Trade secrets may be protected under Colorado state law at Colorado Revised Statutes (“C.R.S.”) § 7-74-101, et seq. (sometimes referred to as the Colorado Uniform Trade Secrets Act or “CUTSA”), or under federal law under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1832, et seq.

Under CUTSA, a “trade secret” can broadly include almost anything that is created or acquired by a business that confers a competitive advantage and is kept secret by its owner. C.R.S. § 7-74-102. But a trade secret may lose its protected status if it is not subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. Damages for misappropriation of trade secrets can include actual damages caused by the misappropriation to the owner as well as any further unjust enrichment or profits of the misappropriating party. See C.R.S. § 7-74-104.

Under the federal DTSA, a trade secret includes information whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing. The DTSA does not pre-empt state law, so a trade secret plaintiff may file a DTSA lawsuit in federal court and also plead a CUTSA state law claim for the misappropriated trade secret. Remedies under section 1836(b)(3) of the DTSA include injunctive relief, and monetary damages such as actual loss and unjust enrichment. Attorney’s fees may be awarded against the plaintiff if the misappropriation claim was made in bad faith, or against the defendant if the trade secret was willfully and maliciously misappropriated.

Intellectual property (“IP”) may be protected as a trade secret as an alternative to patent protection. Some type of IP, such as customer lists and recipes, are not eligible for patent protection. Also,  patents are limited to 20 years from the date the patent application is filed, while trade secrets could potentially be protected indefinitely if secrecy is maintained. But a trade secret does not protect against independent invention or reverse engineering, as these are legitimate competitive activities and not misappropriation.

The Colorado trade secret attorneys at Thomas P. Howard, LLC, regularly handle trade secret litigation under the Colorado Uniform Trade Secret Act. Trade secret attorney Thomas Howard has litigated and won trade secret litigation in Colorado at both the trial and appellate levels. Attorney Howard further acts as a trade secret expert for parties and counsel requiring expert third-party testimony. Examples of recent trade secret litigation include:
Touch Screen

  • Thomas Howard in Saturn Systems v. Militare went to trial in Denver District Court and obtained a judgment on behalf of Plaintiff for injunctive relief, damages and attorneys’ fees arising from the defendant’s intentional theft of trade secrets. On appeal, Thomas Howard again represented Saturn Systems. The Colorado Court of Appeals in 2011 firmly upheld the trial court’s decision and awarded legal fees to Thomas Howard’s client for the cost of litigating the appeal.
  • Thomas Howard successfully obtained permanent injunctive relief on behalf of an online tax services company in order to freeze a defendant’s theft of trade secrets.
  • Thomas Howard successfully defended a trade secret matter for a U.S. citizen residing in the People’s Republic of China, obtaining a settlement and dismissal at the outset of the dispute.

Contact A Denver Trade Secrets Attorney

To discuss your trade secret matter with a Colorado trade secret litigation attorney, contact a lawyer at the law firm of Thomas P. Howard, LLC, at (303) 665-9845. You can also schedule a complimentary initial consultation with the firm by contacting us via e-mail.