MINNESOTA TRADE SECRETS
In Minnesota, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 325C.01-325C.08 (1982) allows for the protection of certain types of information through an action for misappropriation.
Misappropriation is defined as improper acquisition, disclosure, or use of a “trade secret.” Minn. Stat. § 325C.01, subd. 3. Courts typically agree that trade secrets lie somewhere on a continuum from what is generally known in a field to what has some degree of uniqueness. Jostens, Inc. v. National Computer Systems, 318 N.W.2d 691, 698 (Minn.1982).
In any action for misappropriation of trade secrets, it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove that trade secrets in fact existed; that such trade secrets had been acquired by the defendant as a result of a confidential relationship; and that defendant have used and or disclosed such secrets. Eutectic Welding Alloys Corp. v. West, 281 Minn. 13, 160 N.W.2d 566 (Minn. 1968).
However, without a proven trade secret there can be no action for misappropriation, even if a defendants' actions were wrongful. Jostens 318 N.W.2d at 701. Further, the trade secrets at issue must be identified with some level of specificity. Id. at 699. And mere variations in general practices known in the field, which embody no superior advances, are not protectable trade secrets. Id. at 701.
To be a protectable trade secret, the information must: (1) not be generally known or readily ascertainable, (2) provide a competitive advantage, (3) have been developed at plaintiff's expense, and (4) be the subject of plaintiff's intent to keep it confidential. Electro-Craft Corp. v. Controlled Motion, Inc., 332 N.W.2d 890, 898 (Minn.1983).
The party asserting misappropriation must establish each factor to sustain its claim. Id.
Contact me if you have questions or are facing issues related to trade secrets in Minnesota.
Mr. Battina graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a degree in Criminology before receiving his law degree from William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul, MN.
Mr. Battina is an aggressive trial attorney whose practice involves Trade Secret Litigation, Mechanics Liens, Real Estate, Shareholder Litigation, and Employment Law.
Mr. Battina is a member of various committees and associations including the Hennepin County Bar Association, Minnesota State Bar Association, Equity Stripping Task Force, Foreclosure Defense Task Force, Volunteer Lawyers Network, LegalCorps and the Federal Pro Se Project. In addition, Mr. Battina is a licensed real estate broker for Asset Realty, a premier real estate brokerage in Minnesota.