Trade Secret & Employment Mobility Litigation
Trade secrets are frequently considered a company’s most important intellectual property, yet they are more difficult than ever to protect. Knobbe Martens helps clients navigate litigation claims related to all aspects of trade secrets and employee mobility. Our experience includes the resolution of disputes and complex claims involving misappropriation under Federal and state law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, data breaches, tortious interference and unfair competition, as well as employee fiduciary duties, loyalty and poaching.
Swift and decisive action is required when trade secrets are at stake. Once the trade secret is disclosed, the company’s competitive advantage may be compromised. Our attorneys work quickly and efficiently to investigate and develop a strategy that mitigates risk to our client. We negotiate resolutions with adverse parties and, where necessary, litigate as plaintiffs or defendants. We also advise on breach of proprietary information and inventions assignment agreements, joint development agreements, non-disclosure agreements, post-employment non-solicitation and other noninterference covenants, and confidentiality and non-compete agreements. Other exemplary pre-litigation areas we advise on include workforce training, development of employee guidelines, and development of best practices for trade secret identification and maintenance.
Our firm represents both owners of trade secrets and those accused of misappropriating the trade secrets of others. While our victories and favorable outcomes across the country may be best demonstrated by successful jury verdicts, we often secure positive results at earlier phases of the litigation process through temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions and summary judgment decisions, as well as in the negotiation of favorable settlements.
CardiAQ Valve Technologies, Inc. v. Neovasc Inc.
Won a $70 million jury verdict for our client, CardiAQ. CardiAQ designed a transcatheter mitral valve replacement device that was the first ever to be placed in a human and hired Neovasc to help assemble prototypes under a non-disclosure agreement. Neovasc's lead engineer began designing a directly competing device while working on CardiAQ's prototypes, but decided not to tell CardiAQ as their relationship continued for six more months, during which time CardiAQ shared numerous confidential designs. After the judge enhanced damages and awarded interest, the judgment totaled $112 million, which our client collected in full. The court also granted co-inventorship of the defendant's transcatheter mitral valve patent to CardiAQ's co-founders. This has the effect of designating CardiAQ's parent company, Edwards Lifesciences, as a co-owner of the patent.
I-Flow Corp. v. Apex Medical Technologies
Won a $10 million jury verdict for our client, I-Flow, on trade secret, breach of confidence and unfair competition claims. I-Flow, a leading manufacturer of elastomeric infusion drug delivery pumps, brought a claim for trade secret misappropriation when it discovered that a former vendor was marketing a product that appeared to incorporate I-Flow’s technical trade secrets involving I-Flow’s secret methods of selecting, making and testing suitable elastomeric materials.
Partners in Leadership v. Questmark
Represented our client, Partners in Leadership, a leading provider of leadership and accountability training in bringing claims for trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract and unfair competition against a former employee that started a competing business soon after termination. After initial discovery, we uncovered evidence of misappropriation and sought to move for a preliminary injunction. The case settled with the defendant agreeing to a permanent injunction preventing any use of our client’s protected materials.
Flexera Software LLC v. Christopher Herter
Successfully resolved a case for Flexera in a breach of contract, breach of loyalty and conversion case involving a former employee’s theft of highly-valuable computer files containing Flexera’s confidential and proprietary information. Flexera obtained an evidence preservation order, temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The case involved extensive forensics analysis of numerous computers, flash drives and hard drives to determine the extent of the data breach and to allow for an effective quarantining and remediation of the files taken by the defendant.
Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Calasia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. et al.
Represented Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. in an action that included, among other things, claims for the misappropriation of trade secrets. The dispute arose when former employees formed a new venture that allegedly utilized our client’s trade secrets and confidential information. We resolved the matter favorably pursuant to a confidential agreement only two months after filing the complaint.
Cook v. Makita USA, Inc.
Defended the world’s premier power tool maker, Makita USA, in a trade secret misappropriation case relating to power tool design. The plaintiff alleged that he was the inventor of a power tool accessory, and claimed that he had presented the accessory to Makita pursuant to a non-disclosure agreement. We resolved the matter favorably before trial, when the plaintiff dismissed all claims without any compensation from our client.
Custom Connect v. Bartholomew
Represented Custom Connect in a case involving theft of customer lists. Obtained a permanent injunction and judgment by consent, an apology letter to the industry, and a substantial settlement payment from the defendants.
Stillwell Developments, Inc., Sleepsafe Industries, Inc. v. Chen et al.
Successfully defended claims of trade secret misappropriation relating to a portable fire alarm and related claims of unfair competition, breach of contract and commercial fraud. Brought a successful directed verdict motion, which led to an attorneys’ fees award for the successful defense of the trade secret claim.