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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: February 19, 2019

Trade Secret Misappropriation Claim Dismissed for Failure Adequately to Describe the Alleged Trade Secrets

On February 5, 2019, the First Department issued a decision inĀ Schroeder v. Cohen, 2019 NY Slip Op. 00838, dismissing a trade secret misappropriation claim for failure adequately to describe the alleged trade secrets, explaining:

Plaintiffs’ misappropriation of trade secrets and ideas claims were properly dismissed because plaintiffs failed to describe the allegedly misappropriated ideas with sufficient specificity. It is difficult to identify the precise nature of plaintiffs’ claims because their descriptions of what was misappropriated have shifted throughout the litigation. Plaintiffs’ ideas amount to nothing more than a collection of broad concepts, and there is very little information in the record about how those concepts were actually employed in practice, nor is it clear that they were ever even used in combination in a single website.

Plaintiffs’ misappropriation of trade secrets and ideas claims were additionally properly dismissed because plaintiffs’ ideas were not sufficiently novel to merit protection. Plaintiffs do not dispute that each of their individual ideas was not new, but contend that what was novel was their use of these ideas in combination. However, it is not clear that the ideas were ever actually combined in a single website. Even if they were, a combination of pre-existing elements is not considered novel.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

The law protects intellectual property in a number of ways, but that protection is not unlimited, as this decision shows. We frequently litigate intellectual property claims, including trademark, copyright and trade secret claims. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions about whether you have, or face, a claim for theft or infringement of intellectual property.

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