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Abstract

North Carolina has a trade secrets problem, and it resides at the most elementary part of the doctrine: the definition. In the North Carolina Trade Secrets Protection Act, the general assembly established an elemental, two-prong test for identifying a trade secret. Courts adjudicating trade secrets cases, however, have strayed from this definition, instead applying a six-factor balancing test that common law courts used before enactment of statutory trade secret definitions. This bifurcated development has not only created an inconsistent jurisprudence-it has also cultivated fundamental problems in the North Carolina legal system. Namely, North Carolina courts have infringed on the province of the legislative branch, changed the law governing trade secret claims, and prompted practitioner confusion.

This Comment traces the development of trade secret law nationwide and, more specifically, within North Carolina. It identifies where courts went wrong in their trade secret jurisprudence. Through discussion of the problems of the judicially created six-factor test, this Comment advocates for a simple, straightforward solution. That is, the North Carolina Supreme Court should steer lower courts back to the statutory definition.

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