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Colonel Cars Incorporated Issues

Colonel Cars Inc. plans to introduce an innovative speaker system in their cars’ steering wheels and prepares an advertising campaign centered around it. Although both the speakers and the campaign are kept secret, the competitor, European Motor Works (EMW), manages to launch a similar campaign before Colonel Cars starts its advertising. It is presumed that the company’s marketing plans have been disclosed by its top-level manager hired by EMW.

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The disclosure of marketing plans is considered to be a violation of intellectual property rights. Marketing plans are trade secrets and are regarded as a form of intangible property. A trade secret is any piece of information, such as a program, design, device, process, technique, or method, which provides an economic advantage to the business. Colonel Cars’ marketing plans were handled as a trade secret and possess the three main characteristics of an intangible asset: identifiability, control, and future economic benefit. Therefore, they are protected and cannot be used by a third party without permission.

However, the ownership requirements for marketing plans are different from those for personal property. Tangible property is protected by the laws related to theft and damage, while intangible assets are protected with the assistance of tools and institutions available within the legal system, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks. They apply only to the expression of ideas, not to the ideas, methods, and strategies themselves. Because of this, intellectual property protection is more complicated than declaring ownership of a tangible asset and is often disputed. In the case of Colonel Cars, a legal dispute may arise depending on the actual measures that were taken by the company to protect its intellectual property rights.

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