Intellectual assets, which include patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and marketable ideas and processes, can account for as much as 80 percent of a company’s total market value. As a result, companies with intellectual assets are increasingly confronted with intellectual-property- and technology-related disputes, as both a defendant and as a plaintiff. Such disputes include deceptive trade practices, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, common law conversion, tortious interference, unfair competition, civil conspiracy, defamation and aiding and abetting. Moreover, shareholder lawsuits brought against companies and their boards of directors in conjunction with mergers and acquisitions are becoming more common as intellectual property continues to gain recognition as a valuable asset class that can be utilized to maximize corporate revenues.
A new treatise, Technology Litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery, provides a comprehensive analysis of these technology-related claims, including the elements of each claim, the necessary parties, plaintiff’s burden of proof, defenses, preemption, statutes of limitations, damages, equitable relief, and attorneys’ fees. Technology Litigation also explains why the Delaware Court of Chancery is a leading forum for determining technology-related disputes. Since the passage of the Delaware General Corporation Law in 1899, the Court of Chancery has decided some of the nation’s leading cases concerning the duties of corporate America, particularly the more than 60 percent of public companies incorporated under Delaware law. The Court of Chancery is regarded as having the most sophisticated and competent judges and for resolving even the most complex disputes in an efficient and, often times, expedited manner.
In addition to being the leading judicial forum on corporate law and governance, the Court of Chancery has steadily been expanding its case load to include a growing number of technology disputes and disputes involving a company’s intellectual assets, trade secrets, and confidential and proprietary information. The Court of Chancery’s traditional equity jurisdiction had always permitted the Court to handle these type of disputes; however, in 2003, the Delaware General Assembly granted the Court of Chancery specific statutory jurisdiction to hear and decide a broader array of technology disputes. By this legislation, the Delaware General Assembly created a technology-based court within the Court of Chancery and also provided for the confidential mediation of technology-based and other business-related disputes.