Alleged reveal of secret KFC recipe points up valuation question

BVWireIssue #217-1
October 7, 2020

economic damages & lost profits
damages, lost profits, trade secret, reasonable royalty, infringement

Ever wonder what those secret 11 herbs and spices are in KFC’s original recipe fried chicken? An article in the Chicago Tribune reports the discovery of what is allegedly the secret recipe that was stuck in a vintage scrapbook belonging to a family member of Colonel Sanders. Is it the real McCoy? Using typical corporate speak, a KFC spokesperson didn’t come right out and deny that it was the secret recipe, so we’ll see what happens.

Valuation query: A trade secret has value because only a limited number of people have access to it. If a trade secret is stolen, litigation can be triggered and the valuation expert enters the picture to calculate economic damages designed to put the parties in the position they would have been in “but for” the alleged wrongful act. But the trade secret can be disclosed during the litigation, so doesn’t the existence of the litigation itself impact the valuation? A number of different precautions are used to prevent the disclosure of the trade secret during litigation. For example, a protective order can limit access to the information to just the attorneys. Also, the information can be submitted to the court “under seal,” and the court, after looking at it, can redact the sensitive information before releasing it to the public.

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