August 22, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Limitations Period for Multiple Misappropriations of Single Trade Secret Accrued at Time Petitioner Acquired Knowledge of First Act of Misappropriation

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Gognat v. Ellsworth on June 6, 2011.

Uniform Trade Secrets Act—Statute of Limitations—Definition of Trade Secret.

Timothy Gognat sought review of the court of appeals’ decision affirming the district court’s summary judgment in favor of defendant Stephen Smith. The district court ruled that Gognat’s trade secret misappropriation claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the various acts of misappropriation alleged in the complaint constituted multiple misappropriations of either a single trade secret or related trade secrets, the limitations period for which accrued at the time Gognat acquired knowledge of defendant’s first act of misappropriation.

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, finding both that the term “trade secret” as used in the Colorado’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act is a matter of law, to be determined by the court, and that undisputed facts demonstrate that all of the proprietary information alleged to have been misappropriated constituted a single trade secret, the misappropriation of which was known to the Gognat more than three years before filing his complaint.

Summary and full case available here.

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