A Failure of Uniform Laws?
19 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2010 Last revised: 10 Jul 2016
Date Written: July 10, 2010
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act, adopted in forty-six states over 30 years, illustrates an important purpose of uniform laws: allowing states to adopt sister-state statutory interpretation when they enact the uniform statute. The case law of each UTSA state should theoretically apply in every other state adopting it, which provides an important benefit for small states that do not have enough litigation activity to generate their own substantial trade secret case law.
This essay tests this purpose. It examines one small state’s opinions to see how much uniformity the UTSA provides. The results are somewhat surprising: the test state’s courts are not using sister-state interpretations of the UTSA, and are instead more likely to cite common law trade secret decisions from other states. This does not necessarily mean that trade secret law is non-uniform, but it does imply that the UTSA is not providing the predicted uniformity. This essay is a preliminary exploration of this issue; a countrywide study is currently underway.
Keywords: Trade Secrets, IP, UTSA, Uniform Laws, West Virginia
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