FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2018
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305-670-1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB ATTORNEY EARNS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN MISAPPROPRIATION OF
TRADE SECRET CLAIM AND NOW SEEKS ATTORNEYS’ FEES FOR BAD FAITH CLAIM
Intellectual Property – Trade Secret Litigation
TAMPA, Fla. ― Philip J. Kantor (Kantor), a partner in the Ft. Lauderdale office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., obtained final summary judgment in the defense of a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets and conspiracy to misappropriate trade secrets. The case involved a manufacturer of practice bombs for the United States military that sued a competitor and two of its former high-level employees, represented by Kantor, for injunctive relief, damages and attorneys’ fees and costs. The plaintiff manufacturer and the two employees are located in Tennessee, yet the lawsuit was filed first in Broward County, and then transferred to Hillsborough County (Tampa), where the competitor is located. Kantor obtained a dismissal for one employee for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The case continued against the competitor and the other high-level employee. The plaintiff alleged that its competitor won a bid on practice bombs from the military that the plaintiff historically produced. He asserted that its competitor would not have won the contract without using its trade secrets obtained improperly from one or both of its high-level employees. After extensive discovery was conducted, all parties moved for summary judgment.
After reviewing memoranda from all parties and a lengthy oral argument, the court found that “there was nothing improper about the acquisition of the information, as some of it was learned by [the employee] while employed with the plaintiff’s predecessor … and some of it was acquired when [the plaintiff] worked with [the competitor] as a subcontractor. Importantly, no other vector of transmission has been articulated, much less supported by evidence.” The court also found that while the employee and competitor sought to use the information learned from the plaintiff, “use alone is not enough: ‘for liability to attach under the DTSA [Defend Trade Secrets Act] and FUTSA [Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act], the information must be the fruit of wrongful acquisition or misappropriation’.” The court further determined that “plaintiff has neither identified the information nor established a duty to maintain its secrecy—at least not a duty that was communicated to [the former employee] before the litigation began.” The court was also persuaded by the defendants’ primary argument, which was that the plaintiff’s information did not qualify as a trade secret. It determined that the plaintiff’s information “did not have the requisite economic value … there were literally no measures to protect it…. [and] without specifying exactly what they want to protect—they never identified or wrote down the supposed secrets—there is no identifiable object….” Finally, the court declared: “there is no plausible claim that trade secrets exist,” and ordered that defendants’ motions for final summary judgment be granted.
Defendants have since moved for entry of an order finding them entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees. Under the Florida Act, in order for a prevailing defendant to be entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees, it must show that the facts demonstrate that the plaintiff showed “bad faith” in bringing its misappropriation claims against defendant.
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Philip J. Kantor has extensive experience in complex commercial litigation. He focuses on intellectual property, cable television, franchise compliance, and general business transactional matters. He received a Jury Verdict that was published in “Top Florida Verdicts and Settlements of 2012.”
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women owned law firm in the nation with more than 360 lawyers serving clients from 21 offices in the United States and abroad across a spectrum of industries in over 40 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.