GlobeRanger Corp. v. Software AG

Software maker GlobeRanger obtained a $15 million judgment in a trade secret misappropriation trial against competitor Software AG. Software AG challenges that result on a number of grounds, but its principal argument is that GlobeRanger finds itself in a jurisdictional Catch-22. It argues that GlobeRanger’s trade secret claim is preempted by federal copyright law, but if not, then the result is no federal claim to support jurisdiction. Because we find that the trade secret claim is not preempted but that a dismissed conversion claim was preempted and supports federal jurisdiction, we also consider challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, the damages award, and jury instructions. Finding no reversible error on those grounds, we AFFIRM.

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Spear Marketing, Inc. v. BancorpSouth Bank

Plaintiff-Appellant Spear Marketing, Inc. (“SMI”) brought various Texas state law claims against Defendants-Appellees BancorpSouth Bank (“BCS”) and ARGO Data Resource Corp. (“ARGO”) (collectively, “Defendants”) in Texas state court. SMI’s claims related to Defendants’ alleged theft of trade secrets in connection with a software program developed and sold by SMI. Defendants removed the case to federal court on the basis of complete preemption by the Copyright Act. The district court denied SMI’s motion to remand and, after discovery, granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the merits of the claims. SMI appeals both decisions. We affirm.

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Daniels Health Sciences, L.L.C v. Vascular Health Sciences, L.L.C.

This dispute arises from the marketing and sale of the cardiovascular health drug Arterosil. Daniels Health Sciences (“DHS”) engaged Vascular Health Sciences (“VHS”) to market and sell the drug Provasca. After that relationship ended, VHS began to manufacture, market, and sell Arterosil, a product similar in many respects to Provasca. DHS sued VHS for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, and trademark violations. The district court first granted a temporary restraining order on the grounds that DHS would likely succeed on its breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets claims. It later granted a preliminary injunction on the same grounds, also finding a substantial threat of irreparable injury absent an injunction, that the balance of hardships favored the plaintiff, and that the public interest would not be disserved by a grant of injunctive relief. VHS filed a motion in this court requesting a stay of the injunction, which was granted, and now appeals the grant of the preliminary injunction and its scope. We AFFIRM the preliminary injunction, lift the stay, and remand to the district court with instructions to expedite trial and to attempt to narrow its preliminary injunction.

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Mattel, Inc., et al v. MGA Entertainment, Inc.

MGA’s claim of trade-secret misappropriation was not logically related to Mattel’s counterclaim; we therefore reverse the district court’s holding that MGA’s counterclaim- in-reply was compulsory. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding fees and costs under the Copyright Act, we affirm that award.

While this may not be the last word on the subject, perhaps Mattel and MGA can take a lesson from their target demographic: Play nice.


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Judge not convinced by Apple's trade secrets argument, unseals docs

By Jacqui Cheng

A judge has denied Apple's request to keep certain court documents sealed in its copyright infringement case against Mac clone maker Psystar. In a late Tuesday filing, US District Judge William Alsup ordered that portions of the parties' summary judgement be unsealed and filed publicly without any redaction. The ruling came after another judge's comments in September, who argued that Apple had failed to articulate specific reasons for the documents to remain sealed.

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Coca Cola's Secret Recipe Allegedly Revealed by Radio Program

Published February 15, 2011 | NewsCore

CHICAGO – A US radio station claims to have discovered the holy grail of soft drinks -- the secret recipe for Coca-Cola, reported Tuesday.

The website for Chicago public radio show This American Life states it found a list of ingredients for Coca-Cola, a secret that has been closely guarded for more than a century, in a 40-year-old newspaper.

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JustMed, Inc. v. Byce

At the heart of this case is a dispute over whether a small technology start-up company owns the source code developed for its product. Its informal employment practices raise questions as to whether defendant-appellant Michael Byce was an employee when he developed the source code. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment and ordered a permanent injunction against Byce, in favor of plaintiff appellee JustMed, Inc., Byce’s former employer. Among other things, the district court found that JustMed owns the software program used on its digital audio larynx device under the work-for-hire doctrine of the Federal Copyright Act, because Byce wrote the source code for the company as an employee, not as an independent contractor. The district court also found that Byce misappropriated the software under the Idaho Trade Secrets Act. Byce appeals both rulings. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm in part and reverse in part.

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Southwest Stainless, LP v. Sappington

This diversity case requires us to address the contours of covenants not to compete under Oklahoma law. When John R. Sappington and William B. Emmer defected from one Tulsa-area metals business, Southwest Stainless, to another, Rolled Alloys, they took with them years of expertise in the metals industry and personal relationships with many area customers. Some years before, Southwest Stainless had been involved in a merger, and Sappington and Emmer had signed noncompetition agreements that purported to restrict their ability to work for competitors in the area. When Southwest Stainless lost business to Rolled Alloys following Sappington’s and Emmer’s defections, it sued for breach of these agreements and a number of related claims.

After trial, Southwest Stainless succeeded on a handful of these claims and was granted an injunction ordering Sappington and Emmer to abide by the noncompetition agreements for a year following judgment. Rolled Alloys appeals, arguing that even on these claims, Southwest Stainless failed to connect its alleged loss of business to the defendants’ actions. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm the damages and injunction arising from the noncompetition agreements and reverse damages for misappropriation of trade secrets.

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PFS Distribution Co. v. Raduechel

PFS Distribution Company (PFS Distribution) and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (Pilgrim’s Pride) (collectively, PFS) sued Darrell Raduechel (Raduechel) and Barry Spain (Spain) for breach of fiduciary duties and copyright infringement in connection with the formation and operation of Raduechel’s and Spain’s company, D&B Solutions, Inc. (D&B Solutions). PFS also sued Raduechel; Spain; D&B Solutions; John Pothoven (Pothoven); Richard Donohue (Donohue) and Theobald Donohue & Thompson, P.C. (TD&T) (collectively, Accounting Defendants); and Steven Hicks (Hicks) and MidWestOne Bank and Trust (MidWestOne) (collectively, Banking Defendants) for civil conspiracy, constructive trust and unjust enrichment, misappropriation of trade secrets, and aiding and abetting. D&B Solutions was also added to PFS’s copyright infringement claim. Raduechel counterclaimed against PFS for payment of a salary bonus.

The district court1 dismissed Raduechel’s counterclaim, and granted summary judgment to PFS on the issue of Raduechel’s and Spain’s liability for breach of fiduciary duties and misappropriation of trade secrets. The district court left for trial the remaining claims, as well as the issues of causation and damages for Raduechel’s and Spain’s breach of fiduciary duties and misappropriation of trade secrets. A jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants on all of PFS’s remaining claims. PFS then moved for equitable relief and a new trial. The district court denied both motions.

PFS now challenges the district court’s (1) denial of PFS’s motion for a new trial; (2) jury instructions on the civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting claims; (3) expert witness rulings; and (4) denial of equitable relief. Raduechel cross appeals the district court’s dismissal of his counterclaim, and Raduechel and Spain challenge the district court’s summary judgment ruling. We affirm.

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