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Trade Secret Theft: Speed Date Sues Match.com for $6 million

trade secret theftSpeed Date USA, Inc. is suing the online dating company Match.com for $5.65 million for allegedly breaching its contract and misappropriating trade secrets. In essence, the lawsuit claims that Match.com terminated the contract early and then breached its obligations to hold joint events. Match.com terminated the contract, according to the lawsuit, upon learning Speed Date's trade secrets. Match.com then allegedly began to run its own speed dating events without compensating Speed Date USA.

Trade secrets are commonly defined by state statues and generally consist of four elements for the information to constitute a trade secret. The elements of a trade secret are: (i) information; (ii) that has independent economic value; (iii) which is not generally known or readily available; and (iv) such information is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.

In the Match.com trade secret theft case, Speed Date claims its trade secrets consist of a formula, pattern for marketing and running speed dating events, which resulted in the commercial competitive advantage of being one of the best speed dating services in the nation. Speed Date spent years developing its formula and pattern for marketing and running speed dating events. Speed Date contends this was the basis for which Match.com sought to develop a business relationship. After entering into a contract to commercialize its business knowhow, the trade secret information was communicated to Match.com under confidentiality. Speed Date is suing Match.com for the unauthorized use of this information, which constitutes a trade secret.

Any information, business process formulas, marketing techniques, or other business knowhow that meets the four elements above may constitute a trade secret - even speed dating concepts.

If you or your business have protected information that is highly valuable to you or your company and is not readily known to your competitors, you may have valuable trade secrets.  As you commercialize your concepts with other individuals or companies, it is essential, for your own economic vitality, to take proactive legal steps to protect your trade secrets and develop strategies, even in the contractual agreements with other parties, to retrieve such valuable information and prevent the unauthorized use of your valuable trade secrets. Unfortunately, safeguarding valuable intellectual property is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity of the wild-west, copy-and-paste, absorb-it-as-our-own world of e-commerce.

Categories: E-Commerce, Intellectual Property, Trade Secrets


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