Wednesday, August 08, 2007, 8/08/2007 07:45:00 AM

Only One Way to Get Attorney's Fees in NC Trade Secrets Case

From our sister blog, the North Carolina Appellate Blog, a report on yesterday's decision in Bruning & Federle Mfg. Co. v. Mills.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals resolved a perceived conflict in statutes regarding an award of attorneys' fees in trade secrets cases under the Trade Secrets Protection Act, holding that the provisions of the Act, specifically, N.C.G.S. § 66-154(d), controlled. That section provides that "[i]f a claim of misappropriation is made in bad faith or if willful and malicious misappropriation exists, the court may award reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party."

Thus, an award of attorneys' fees to a prevailing defendant is available only if the plaintiff's trade secrets claim is advanced in bad faith.

The court ruled that the more general "costs" provision found in N.C.G.S. § 6-21 did not apply.

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