Adams v. Pull’R Holding Co., LLC, No. 09 C 7170, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 20, 2010) (Gettleman, Jr.).
Judge Gettleman granted defendants’ motion to dismiss as to plaintiff’s civil conspiracy claim and granted in part plaintiff’s motion to dismiss defendants’ trade secret and related state law counterclaim in this case involving hoists, fence installation tools and other do it yourself tools. The Court dismissed plaintiff’s civil conspiracy claim because it was not based upon an underlying tort claim. The purpose of a civil conspiracy is to extend tort liability to members of a conspiracy.
The Court denied plaintiff’s motion to dismiss as to defendants’ breach of contract counterclaim. The motion was premised upon plaintiff’s argument that he was not a party to the agreement. But plaintiff was not allowed to make that argument after having pled in his complaint that he was a party to the agreement.
The Court also denied plaintiff’s motion as to defendants’ trade secret misappropriation claim. It did not matter that defendants’ allegations were all pled on information and belief. Defendants’ pleading sufficiently provided plaintiff the what, where, when, why and how required by the pleading standards.

Continue Reading Trade Secret Claims May Be Pled Solely Upon Information and Belief

UTStarcom, Inc. v. Starent Networks, Corp., No. 07 C 2582, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2009) (Lindberg, Sen. J.).
Judge Lindberg denied the individual defendant’s Fed. R. Civ P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The individual defendant’s four business trips to Illinois and prior work in California for plaintiff did not create general jurisdiction. But the Court did have specific jurisdiction over the individual defendant. Individual defendant was president of defendant Starent. As president, he had authority over Starent’s alleged pattern of hiring away plaintiff’s employees and allegedly misappropriating plaintiff’s trade secrets from those employees. Because the alleged trade secret misappropriation harmed plaintiff’s Illinois-based business in Illinois, the Court had general jurisdiction over Starent and its president, the individual defendant.

Continue Reading Alleged Harm to Plaintiff in Illinois Creates Specific Jurisdiction

LimitNone v. Google, Inc., (Cook County Ct. Jun. 24, 2008).
Last week, LimitNone, a Chicago company, sued Google for trade secret misappropriation seek $1B. LimitNone alleged that Google entered a nondisclosure agreement with LimitNone to review LimitNone’s gMove software — software that helps Microsoft Outlook users migrate data to the Google platform. Google allegedly assured LimitNone that it would not offer a competing product, but after receiving LimitNone’s trade secrets and promoting the $19 gMove software, Google began offering a free, competing software package which allegedly used LimitNone’s trade secrets. LimitNone filed a speaking complaint, for example:
With gMove priced at $19 per copy and Google’s prediction that there were potentially 50 million users, Google deprived LimitNone of a $950m opportunity by offering Google’s competitive product for free as a part of its ‘premier’ Google Apps package
This appears to be an interesting and potentially significant case. I will keep my eye on it and update you as opinions and events occur. For more on the filing, check out:
* Chicago Tribune
* Slashdot
* Tech Report
* ZDNet

Continue Reading Chicago Company LimitNone Sues Google

Single Source, Inc. v. Harvey, No. 07 C 1201, 2008 WL 927902 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 7, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants’ summary judgment motion. Defendant Harvey was employed by plaintiff Single Source (“SS”) as, among other things, its Sales Director. When Harvey was promoted to the Sales Director position he signed a confidentiality agreement which required that Harvey maintain the secrecy of SS’s trade secrets and only use them for SS’s benefit. SS alleged that Harvey became disgruntled and took a position with defendant Food Marketing Concepts (“FMC”). Before giving SS notice and leaving SS’s employ, Harvey allegedly solicited SS’s customers for FMC and used an SS expense account to pursue customers for FMC. Defendants argued that because Harvey was not an SS officer or director he did not owe SS a duty of loyalty. The Court, however, held that an employee owes it employer a duty not to compete with the employer or solicit the employer’s customers before terminating the employment. The Court also held that the parties’ competing evidence regarding whether Harvey had actually solicited SS’s customers prior to ending his employment with SS created a material question of fact.
Practice Tip: You must respond to Local Rule 56.1 statements of material facts. The Court noted that defendants did not respond to SS’s statement of additional facts. Because of that, the Court deemed each additional material fact admitted. The Court did not identify whether its decision turned on any of these admitted facts, but it is easy to imagine the circumstance in which the case could have turned on an inadvertently admitted fact.

Continue Reading Employee Owes Current Employer Duty of Loyalty

Integrated Genomics, Inc. Kyrsides, No. 06 C 6706, 2008 WL 63065 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 4, 2008) (Lefkow, J.).
Judge Lefkow dismissed defendant Ivanova for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, held that the Court had subject matter jurisdiction over defendant Kyrsides, and denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims based upon preemption. Plaintiff alleged that defendants’ breached their non-compete agreements and otherwise named plaintiff when defendants resigned from plaintiff, where they worked with genome software, and joined plaintiff’s competitor in similar roles. Defendants each argued that plaintiff had not sufficiently pled diversity jurisdiction because plaintiff had not shown that $75,000 or more was in controversy. In response, plaintiff alleged that they lost customers to defendants’ new employer after defendants resigned. But that was insufficient because plaintiff did not allege that defendants were responsible for, or the cause of, those lost customers. The Court, therefore, dismissed defendant Ivanova. But for Kyrisides, plaintiff also relied upon an email sent from Kyrsides to plaintiff’s employees explaining Krysides’s view that his resignation cost plaintiff a very large number of contracts. Kyrsides statements were sufficient proof that the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000.
The Court held that a motion to dismiss was not the appropriate vehicle for deciding the scope of the relevant non-compete agreements. The scope of a non-compete was fact-intensive and best determined after additional discovery.
Finally, the Court held that plaintiff’s claims were not preempted by the Illinois Trade Secret Act (“ITSA”). While the claims could encompass trade secret information, they were based upon the broader category of confidential information. Because the claims were potentially broader than trade secrets, they were not preempted.

Continue Reading Jurisdiction: Amount in Controversy Must be Tied to Alleged Wrongs

CardioNet, Inc. v. LifeWatch Corp., No. 07 C 6625, 2008 WL 567031 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2008) (Conlon, J.).
Judge Conlon granted in part counter-defendant CardioNet’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss counter-plaintiffs’ (collectively, “LifeWatch”) Lanham Act false advertising and related Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“UDTPA”) and Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“CFA”) claims. LifeWatch alleged that CardioNet improperly acquired one of LifeWatch’s prescription-only heart monitoring devices, the Life Star ACT. The device monitors a person’s heart rate and uses a cell phone to transmit irregular readings to a monitoring station. CardioNet allegedly inspected and tested the device. Then based on its tests, CardioNet allegedly misappropriated LifeWatch’s trade secrets and intentionally made false and misleading statements about the LifeStar ACT in its advertising. LifeWatch’s Lanham Act, UDTPA and CFA claims were all based upon CardioNet’s allegedly false advertising.
LifeWatch identified the allegedly false statements with specificity, but because LifeWatch did not plead who made them or when and where they were made, LifeWatch’s claims did not meet Rule 9(b) heightened pleading standards. The Court, therefore, dismissed the Lanham Act, UDTPA and CFA claims.

Continue Reading Rule 9(b) Pleading Standards for Lanham Act False Advertising Claims

RRK Holding Co. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. 04 C 3944, Min. Order (N.D. Ill. Sep. 10, 2007) (Coar, J.).*
Judge Coar denied the parties’ damages motions in limine.* First, the Court held that defendant Sears, Roebuck & Co. (“Sears”) could have its damages expert Catherine Lawton testify regarding her analysis of a hypothetical September 2001 negotiation between the parties. Plaintiff RRK Holding (“RRK”) argued that the misappropriation began in March 2000, not when Sears began selling its product in September 2001. As a result, Sears contended that Lawton’s September 2001 hypothetical negotiation should not be allowed into evidence. But the Court held that the timing of the misappropriation was a question of fact for the jury and, therefore, allowed Lawton’s testimony.
Second, the Court held that Sears could introduce the 2003 sale of some of RRK’s assets for $17M as part of Sears’s damages case. The Court held that the value of the sale was relevant to RRK’s alleged injury based upon the alleged misappropriation.
Third, the Court held that RRK could introduce damages calculations including periods beyond the “head start” period (the time it would have taken for Sears to reverse engineer RRK’s combination tool). The head start period was disputed, preventing the Court from fixing a time for the period, and any alleged harm would be resolved by a jury instruction explaining how the jury should calculate damages relative to the head start period.
Finally, the Court denied RRK’s motion for sanctions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927. RRK argued that Sears’s March 2007 production, two years after fact discovery closed, of documents dated 1999 was “unreasonable and vexatious” and should be sanctioned. But the Court held that Sears’s explanation that the documents were found when it replaced its litigation counsel and new counsel ran additional searches rendered the delay “negligen[t] and reckless[],” but not in bad faith. The Court, therefore, did not impose sanctions.
* Click here for a copy of the opinion and click here for more about this case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading “Negligence and Recklessness” Does Not Warrant Discovery Sanctions

As promised last week, the jury instructions are now available — click here for a copy. Additionally, although the verdict form is not available electronically, the Court’s minute order (click here for a copy) gave some additional detail. The jury found for plaintiff RRK on each of eleven counts and awarded damages as follows:
Damages Award RRK’s Actual Losses $11,664,105
Sears’s Unjust Enrichment $1,688,136
Punitive Damages $8,011,344
Total Damages $21,363,585
For more on this case, click here for the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading RRK v. Sears: Jury Instructions

RRK Holding Co. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. 04 C 3944, 2007 WL 495254 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2007) (Coar, J.).
The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that a jury returned a $21.5M verdict, including $8M in punitive damages, Monday for plaintiff RRK Holding Co. (“RRK”) in its Illinois Trade Secret Act (“ITSA”) suit against defendant Sears, Roebuck & Co. (“Sears”). RRK alleged that, pursuant to a nondisclosure agreement, it disclosed to Sears its plans for a next generation “combination tool” which consisted of a rotary saw, also called a spiral saw, which could be converted into a plunge router. But after negotiations broke down over price, Sears allegedly took RRK’s plans and used them to make Sears’s Craftsman “All-in-One” tool. Sears has said it will appeal the verdict. The Court’s docket has not been updated yet with a verdict form or jury instructions, but I will post them when they become available, likely next week.
For more on this case, click here for the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Jury Returns $21.5M Trade Secret Verdict

Am Fam. Mutual Ins., Co. v. Roth, No. 05 C 3839, 2007 WL 2410074 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 16, 2007) (Cole, Mag. J.).
Judge Cole granted in part plaintiff’s motion to strike evidence and bar its use. The documents at issue were commission statements including plaintiff’s customer information. The Court previously ordered defendants to return to plaintiff all documents in its possession including plaintiff’s customer information in this trade secret matter. After that order, defendants filed the commission statements, including customer information, with the clerk as an exhibit to another document. The Court held that filing of the commission statements was public disclosure which violated the Court’s order that defendants not retain or disclose such information. But the Court held that plaintiff’s preferred sanction for retaining and filing the documents, barring their use as evidence at trial, was not proportional with defendants’ wrong in keeping the document and filing them publicly with the Court.

Continue Reading Striking Evidence Too Strong a Remedy for Wrongly Retained Evidence