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AMERICAN COURTS ON UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES

1. MISAPPROPRIATION

For an idea to be protected from misappropriation, it needs to be concrete but does not need to be reduced to a completely detailed proposal. Hamilton Nat’l Bank v. Belt, 210 F.2d 706 (D.C. Cir. 1953).

Only novel ideas are protected. Murray v. NBC, 844 F.2s 988 (2d Cir. 1988).

Unauthorized use of likeness of celebrity’s voice is prohibited. Midler v. Ford Motor Co., 849 F.2d 460 (9th Cir. 1988).

2. FALSE ADVERTISEMENT AND DISPARAGEMENT

If a false advertisement clearly targets one particular competitor, that competitor can bring a false advertisement common law action even if the firm is not a sole source of goods/services in question.  Electronics Corp. of America v. Honeywell, Inc., 428 F.2d 191 (1st Cir. 1970).

3. COVENANTS NOT TO COMPETE

The legislature codified that policy in … which provided in relevant part:

A covenant by an assistant, servant or agent not to compete with his employer or principal during the term of the employment or agency, or thereafter, within a specified territory and during a specified time is lawful and enforceable only if the restrictions imposed are reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer or principal. Any such restrictive covenant imposing an unreasonable restraint is illegal, void and unenforceable even as to so much of the covenant or performance as would be a reasonable restraint.

… Nonetheless, restrictive covenants may serve to prevent the dissemination of confidential business information necessary to the employer and may prevent unfair competition. However, an "`employer is not entitled to be protected against legitimate and ordinary competition of the type a stranger could give.'" ... [C]ompetition based on the ordinary skills and experience an employee has acquired through working for an employer is not unfair competition.” Farm Credit Services of North Central Wisconsin, ACA v. Wysocki, 627 NW2d 444 (Wis. 2001).

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