Trade secret litigation in Missouri can be complex. Such suits usually come about when an employee improperly accesses or discloses a trade secret of an employer/company/business. While most cases will center on whether certain information constitutes a “trade secret,” the definition of “misappropriation” is also very precise. Generally, both must be present to prevail on a trade secret misappropriation claim.
Section 417.453(2), RSMo defines “misappropriation” in detail for purposes of a trade secret claim. By the language of the statute, a misappropriation can occur if there is an improper acquisition or improper disclosure. As Missouri’s Supreme Court has made clear, there are usually three situations in which a trade secret misappropriation claim may be made: (1) when a person acquires the trade secret while knowing or having reason to know that he or she is doing so by improper means, (2) when a person who has acquired or derived knowledge of the trade secret discloses it without the owner’s consent, or (3) when a person who has acquired or derived knowledge of the trade secret uses it without the owner’s consent. Central Trust . Signalpoint Asset Mgmt., 422 S.W.3d 312 (Mo. 2014).
Notably, “improper means” is also defined to mean things including “theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage through electronic or other means” under Section 417.453(1), RSMo.
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