West Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act

Last Modified: 

W. Va. Code §§ 47-22-1 through 47-22-10

§ 47-22-1. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires otherwise:
(a) "Improper means" includes theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy or espionage through electronic or other means.
(b) "Misappropriation" means:
(1) Acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means; or
(2) Disclosure or use of another person's trade secret without the other's express or implied consent by a person who:
(A) Used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret; or
(B) At the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that his knowledge of the trade secret was:
(i) Derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it; or
(ii) Acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or
(iii) Derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or
(C) Before a material change of his position, knew or had reason to know that the information was a trade secret and that knowledge of it had been acquired by accident or mistake.
(c) "Person" means a natural person, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, joint venture, government, governmental subdivision or agency or any other legal or commercial entity.
(d) "Trade secret" means information, including, but not limited to, a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process, that:
(1) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
(2) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

§ 47-22-2. Injunctive relief.

(a) Actual or threatened misappropriation may be enjoined. Upon application to the court, an injunction shall be terminated when the trade secret has ceased to exist, but the injunction may be continued for an additional reasonable period of time in order to eliminate commercial advantage that otherwise would be derived from the misappropriation.
(b) In exceptional circumstances, an injunction may condition future use upon payment of a reasonable royalty for no longer than the period of time for which the use could have been prohibited. Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to, a material and prejudicial change of position prior to acquiring knowledge or reason to know of a misappropriation that renders a prohibitive injunction inequitable.
(c) In appropriate circumstances, affirmative acts to protect a trade secret may be compelled by court order.

§ 47-22-3. Damages.

(a) Except to the extent that a material and prejudicial change of position prior to acquiring knowledge or reason to know of misappropriation renders a monetary recovery inequitable, a complainant is entitled to recover damages for misappropriation. Damages may include both the actual loss caused by the misappropriation and the unjust enrichment caused by the misappropriation. In lieu of damages measured by any other methods, the damages caused by misappropriation may be measured by imposition of liability for a reasonable royalty for a misappropriator's unauthorized disclosure or use of a trade secret.
(b) If willful and malicious misappropriation occurs, the court may award exemplary damages in an amount not exceeding twice any award made under subsection (a) of this section.

§ 47-22-4. Attorney's fees.

If (a) a claim of misappropriation is made in bad faith, or (b) a motion to terminate an injunction is made or resisted in bad faith, or (c) willful and malicious misappropriation occurs, the court may award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party.

§ 47-22-5. Preservation of secrecy.

In an action brought pursuant to this article, a court shall preserve the secrecy of an alleged trade secret by reasonable means, which may include granting protective orders in connection with discovery proceedings, holding in camera hearings, sealing the records of the action and ordering any person involved in the litigation not to disclose an alleged trade secret without prior court approval.

§ 47-22-6. Statute of limitations.

An action for misappropriation must be brought within three years after the misappropriation is discovered or, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered. For the purposes of this section, a continuing misappropriation constitutes a single claim.

§ 47-22-7. Effect on other law.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section this article displaces conflicting tort, restitutionary and other law of this state providing civil remedies for misappropriation of a trade secret.
(b) This article does not affect:
(1) Contractual remedies, whether or not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret;
(2) Other civil remedies that are not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret; or
(3) Criminal remedies, whether or not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret.

§ 47-22-8. Uniformity of application and construction.

This article shall be applied and construed to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this act among states enacting it.

§ 47-22-9. Short title.

This article may be cited as the "Uniform Trade Secrets Act."

§ 47-22-10. Time of taking effect.

This article takes effect on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred eighty-six, and does not apply to misappropriations occurring prior to the effective date or to misappropriations which began prior to the effective date and continue past the effective date.