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In 2010, two parties, AcryliCon USA, LLC (AcryliCon) and Silikal GmbH (Silikal) agreed to share rights to a secret formula for a flooring resin known as 1061 SW.  Under the agreement, Silikal would manufacture 1061 SW and AcryliCon and its affiliates would have exclusive rights to distribution. After Silikal began selling 1061 SW without permission, AcryliCon sued for breach of their agreement and for misappropriation of a shared trade secret. A jury awarded AcryliCon $1.5 million in damages on each of the two claims and $3 million in punitive damages on the misappropriation claim. Silikal appealed, arguing, among other things, that AcryliCon failed to prove its misappropriation claim. In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed.

Continue Reading Timing Is Everything: Eleventh Circuit Finds No Misappropriation Under Georgia Trade Secret Law

In the early 2000s, New York City experienced a surging bedbug epidemic. In response, the company FabriClear created a spray to treat bedbug infestations, which it called “FabriClear” (“the FabriClear Product”). In 2013, FabriClear approached Harvest Direct, a company that markets and sells “As Seen on TV” products, to discuss bringing the FabriClear Product to market. The two companies executed a confidentiality agreement, which specified that Harvest Direct could not reproduce, use, alter, or modify the FabriClear Product formula without FabriClear’s written permission. The parties later negotiated a licensing agreement, giving Harvest Direct the right to the exclusive license to market and sell the FabriClear Product and to use FabriClear’s “trademarks, trade names, copyrights, trade secrets, technical data, information, know-how, formulas, and other intellectual property rights.” The FabriClear Product sold very well for approximately five years, but toward the end of 2018, sales started to decline. It turned out that Harvest Direct had started marketing its own competing bedbug product (the “X-Out Product”). Harvest Direct started working on its product in 2015, and its product was indistinguishable from the FabriClear Product, including very similar packaging. Indeed, there was evidence presented that, at some point, Harvest Direct just repackaged existing bottles of the FabriClear Product. One of the bottles investigated by the FBI revealed a FabriClear Product label under the X-Out Product label. FabriClear then filed suit against Harvest Direct for misappropriation of trade secrets, among other claims.
Continue Reading Battling Bedbugs: Massachusetts District Court Allows Case Against Distributor that Created a Competing Product to Move Forward

In June 2020, we wrote about a Texas appellate court overturning a $740 million judgment for real estate analytics company HouseCanary because the jury instructions included theories of liability for which there was no evidence and allowed recovery on claims that were preempted by the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

On June 18, 2020, the

A Texas appellate court reversed a $740 million trade secret theft and fraud judgment for real estate analytics company HouseCanary against rival Amrock, holding flawed jury instructions require a new trial.

In 2014, Title Source Insurance (TSI), a property valuation and settlement services company, contracted with HouseCanary, a real estate analytics company, to design an app that would allow TSI to perform appraisals more efficiently. The parties specifically agreed not to “decompile, disassemble, reverse translate, reverse engineer, or otherwise attempt to discover or directly access the source code of [the app] or any component or portion thereof.” HouseCanary’s work on the app involved multiple alleged trade secrets, including a complex data dictionary of property valuation attributes and a number of internal calculations and formulas used to evaluate property value. While HouseCanary built TSI’s app, TSI allegedly started developing its own products, utilizing HouseCanary’s protected data and formulas. Eventually the parties’ relationship deteriorated, and TSI accused HouseCanary of failing to deliver on the parties’ contract and sued for breach of contract and fraud. HouseCanary counterclaimed for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and fraud. A jury found for HouseCanary and awarded actual and punitive damages.
Continue Reading Texas Court Orders New Trial After $740M Judgment

The Southern District of New York denied defendant Lionbridge Technologies, Inc.’s (Lionbridge) motion to dismiss, holding that TransPerfect Global, Inc. (TransPerfect), sufficiently pleaded that information disclosed to potential bidders in an online auction constituted trade secrets and that Lionbridge misappropriated these trade secrets. In 2014, the Delaware Chancery Court ordered the dissolution through modified auction of TransPerfect, a translation, website localization, and litigation support company. The auction had three phases. At each phase the bidding pool narrowed, and the bidders received increasingly detailed and sensitive information about TransPerfect. HIG, an investment firm that had just submitted a bid to purchase Lionbridge (TransPerfect’s largest competitor), participated in the auction. According to TransPerfect’s complaint, HIG participated in all three phases, even though it never intended to purchase TransPerfect because TransPerfect would not agree to require its former owner to enter into a noncompetition agreement. During the final stages of the auction, HIG gained access to thousands of competitively sensitive documents, including detailed pricing and cost information. TransPerfect alleged that after the sale, HIG shared this confidential information with Lionbridge, which then used the information to undercut TransPerfect’s pricing.
Continue Reading Use of Information Outside Scope of Confidentiality Agreement as Misappropriation

In 2013, Bloomberg and iSentium began a business relationship to consider incorporating iSentium’s sentiment-analysis app (iSENSE) into the Bloomberg platform. The app identified and analyzed market-related opinions posted to social media, anticipated changes in the price of publicly traded stocks, and made information available to traders. Id. The parties entered a non-disclosure agreement and an agreement titled “Developer Agreement for Bloomberg Application Portal” (the Development Agreement). Id. at *2. The Developer Agreement provided that “no action arising out of it may be brought by iSentium more than one year after the cause of action’s accrual.” Id. The iSENSE app appeared on Bloomberg for an unspecified amount of time, but in February 2016, iSentium requested that Bloomberg remove the app because it was no longer technologically compatible with the Bloomberg platform. Id. Shortly thereafter in July 2016, Bloomberg announced its own sentiment-analysis app. Id. Subsequently in October 2017, iSentium brought a claim for misappropriation of its trade secrets. Id.
Continue Reading Artificial Intelligence Company Fails to Sustain Trade Secret Claims