Trial

Titanic Texas Trade Secrets Verdict Contested as Colossal Collusion

A $700 million jury award for trade secrets misappropriation and fraud is the product of a collusive scheme to deceive the jury, claims title insurance and valuations provider Amrock, formerly known as Title Source, in its recent bid for a new trial.

The blockbuster award to technology start-up HouseCanary arose out of its 2015 contract to provide Amrock with access to its proprietary app designed to generate real estate valuations for house appraisers based on a proprietary automated valuation model. Several months later, Amrock accused HouseCanary of breaching the contract by failing to provide any usable products. Amrock terminated the agreement and sought a declaratory judgment in Texas state court that it need not pay HouseCanary the contracted $5 million in annual access fees.  HouseCanary countersued, claiming that Amrock used HouseCanary’s products and offerings without paying for them, collected a “critical mass” of HouseCanary’s proprietary data, and ultimately used that information to “secretly replicate” HouseCanary’s protected technology and intellectual property. HouseCanary ultimately convinced the San Antonio jury that Amrock lied about its intended purpose in entering the contract and that Amrock misappropriated HouseCanary’s data and technology to develop competing property analytics and software. In March 2018, the jury awarded HouseCanary $200 million for trade secrets misappropriation, $400 million in punitive damages for the misappropriation, $34 million for fraud relating to the contract, and $68 million in punitive damages for the fraud. In October 2018, the judge upheld the award and ordered Amrock to also pay $29 million in prejudgment interest and $4.5 million in attorneys’ fees. READ MORE

Fishing for ESI

When National Fish and Seafood’s (NFS) head of research left for a new opportunity at Tampa Bay Fisheries, she may not have taken just her talents to the competition.  According to NFS’ lawsuit, the former employee transferred thousands of files containing confidential and proprietary information prior to her departure from the company.  NFS also alleges that the CEO of Tampa Bay Fisheries conspired with NFS’s former employee to steal trade secrets involving its proprietary clam production process.

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Seedy Business: Chinese Scientist Sentenced to Ten Years for Stealing Proprietary Rice Seeds

In 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents caught researchers attempting to smuggle a $75 million trade secret from the United States to China.  Unlike the trade secrets we usually discuss, the trade secrets in tow were rice seeds.  But not just any rice seeds:  these valuable seeds were genetically modified to create proteins used to treat gastrointestinal disease, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, hepatic disease, osteoporosis and inflammatory bowel disease.  READ MORE

HALLOWEEN TREAT: Judge’s October 31 Order Adds $21 Million to Jury’s $70 Million Award for Trade Secret Theft

On October 31st of this year, a district judge in Massachusetts granted a motion for enhanced damages in a theft of trade secrets case, adding an additional $21 million to a $70 million jury award.

The theft of trade secrets case pitted CardiAQ Valve Technologies, Inc., a Delaware corporation and a unit of Edwards Lifesciences Corp., against Neovasc Inc., a Canadian medical device company. In June 2009, CardiAQ hired Neovasc to manufacture part of an experimental heart valve that CardiAQ was developing – a trans-catheter mitral valve (TMVI), a replacement heart valve that can be implanted using a catheter rather than by open-heart surgery. The parties signed a non-disclosure agreement. READ MORE

Buried at Trial: Supplier of Earthmoving Equipment Gets Hit with $74M Verdict in Trade Secrets Theft Case

In the wake of an 8-week trial, Caterpillar Inc. has received a $74M verdict against it in the Northern District of Illinois after a jury found it guilty of exploiting a supply contract with Miller UK Ltd. to steal the company’s trade secrets. READ MORE

In China: Is Your Business Information Qualified for Protection in Trade Secrets Litigation?

Recently, China and the U.S. have reached some meaningful commitments on minimizing trade secrets misappropriation and protecting intellectual property during their Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.The commitments represent a step forward for trade secrets protection between the U.S. and China. Many U.S. companies, however, still complain that they are burdened by intricate laws and litigation regarding trade secret misappropriation in China. Here’s a primer on Chinese trade secrets law, which is often jurisdiction-specific. READ MORE

Getting Hammered: California Trial Court Finds for E*Trade in Long-Running Misappropriation Case Where Plaintiff Destroyed the Evidence

In a fifteen-year tale of how not to protect your emerging company’s trade secrets when dealing with the big fish, on September 16, 2015, a California trial court denied a company’s bid for royalties for technology misappropriated by E*Trade in the early days of wireless trading. With multiple trials and trips to the court of appeals, and servers containing evidence being smashed with a hammer, the case underscores the importance of robust non-disclosure agreements and of thoroughly documenting your trade secrets. READ MORE

A Voice from China: Unraveling the Different Standards for Civil and Criminal Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

In China, victims of trade secret misappropriation suffering losses over RMB 500,000 are entitled to file a civil action and may also report the case to public security authorities to initiate a criminal investigation. (For more of our coverage about trade secrets protection in China, click here). When both criminal and civil actions are pending, a Chinese criminal court tends to use the civil decision, if available, as the basis of proving the crime of trade secret misappropriation as long as the damages requirement is met. In Maige Kunci Co., Ltd. v. Suzhou Ruitai New Metal Co., Ltd. (regarded as one of the top 10 Chinese IP cases in 2014) READ MORE

Filer Beware! E-Filing Error Can Destroy Trade Secret Status

First rule of thumb in trade secrets litigation? A trade secret must be kept secret. It is painfully obvious, but modern practitioners must not grow complacent due to the convenience of electronic filing. Although trade secrets law does not command absolute secrecy, a recent e-filing snafu in HMS Holdings Corp. v. Arendt offers a cautionary tale from New York on how one botched upload could jeopardize a client’s most prized possession. READ MORE

500,000 Lines of Source Code: The New “Intangible Property”

Sergey Aleynikov’s six-year trade secret odyssey through all possible configurations of litigation, civil and criminal, federal and state, may at long last have come to an end after the New York Supreme Court recently overturned his only surviving criminal conviction for unlawful use of secret scientific material. We here at Trade Secrets Watch have closely tracked Aleynikov’s journey, recently reporting on his newest victory, and previously covering his convoluted trials and tribulations. In particular, prior to the recent New York Supreme Court decision, the Second Circuit overturned Aleynikov’s convictions under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA) and the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA), which also led to a change in the EEA legislation. READ MORE