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April 23, 2014

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Strip photo galleries in legal battle over trade secrets

High-end photography companies with galleries at Las Vegas casino-resorts may be headed for a legal showdown, with one accusing the other of misappropriating its trade secrets.

Las Vegas-based Peter Lik USA Inc. filed suit last week against The Lough Road Inc. of Happy Valley, Ore.; and Lough Road's national sales director, Robert Scottland.

Peter Lik USA says it has galleries in Las Vegas at the Forum Shops at Caesars, the Venetian and Mandalay Place; and elsewhere around the country and in Peter Lik's native Australia. These showcase the works of Lik, a landscape photographer.

Peter Lik USA charges in the lawsuit that Scottland, a former Peter Lik employee, has violated his noncompete agreement by soliciting the business of Peter Lik customers on behalf of The Lough Road.

The Lough Road has four galleries around the country and is preparing to open its first Las Vegas location, at MGM Mirage's CityCenter complex, in December. The Lough Road sells the works of landscape and wilderness photographer Rodney Lough Jr.

Lough on Monday disputed the allegations in the lawsuit.

"It's completely baseless," Lough said of the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Clark County District Court.

Lough confirmed Scottland works for him as national sales director. The lawsuit claims Scottland has been named manager of the CityCenter gallery, but Lough said it hasn't been determined who will manage the Las Vegas location.

Besides accusing Scottland of violating his noncompete agreement by soliciting Peter Lik customers, the lawsuit claims Scottland published disparaging remarks about Lik in e-mails and on an Internet blog and has failed to return to Lik artwork and furniture valued at more than $100,000.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys with the Las Vegas office of the law firm Littler Mendelson, alleges breach of contract, conspiracy and defamation.

"Defendants wrongfully acquired and/or utilized confidential information regarding Peter Lik USA's customers, business practices and trade secrets that exclusively belonged to Peter Lik USA," the lawsuit alleges.

But Lough, in denying the allegations Monday, said he's considering filing a counterclaim against Peter Lik USA.

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