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Heath Coffman is a shareholder at Brackett & Ellis, P.C. in Fort Worth, Texas.  His practice includes commercial litigation, intellectual property, collections, professional malpractice defense, fiduciary litigation, and appeals.  You can contact him directly at hcoffman@belaw.com.

The case of Pittsburgh Logistics Sys., Inc. v. Barricks, No. :20-CV-04282, 2022 WL 705870 (S.D. Tex. 2022), dealt with determining whether a customer list was a trade secret under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act (TUTSA).  Additionally, this case dealt with determining whether Pittsburgh Logistics Systems’s (PLS) claims for unfair competition, tortious interference with prospective business, and breach of fiduciary duty were preempted by TUTSA.  Ultimately, the court determined that a factual issue existed as to whether PLS’s customer list was a trade secret.  Moreover, the court determined that the TUTSA preempted PLS’s claims for unfair competition, tortious interference with prospective business, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Continue Reading Southern District of Texas Holds that There is a Fact Issue on Whether a Customer List is a Trade Secret

The case of Six Dimensions, Inc. v. Perficient, Inc., 969 F.3d 219 (5th Cir. 2020), dealt with the application of non-compete provisions in employee contracts after certain employees left to work for a competitor. Ultimately, on the trade secrets issue, the Fifth Circuit determined that the plaintiff Six Dimensions failed to provide evidence that the defendant Perficient acquired the trade secrets within the meaning of the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA). Therefore, the Court affirmed the decision of the District Court not to grant a new trial on this issue.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Holds that Employee’s Possession of Trade Secrets Does Not Establish that the New Employer Acquired Trade Secrets

The case of Recif Res., LLC v. Juniper Capital Advisors, L.P., No. CV H-19-2953, 2020 WL 6748049 (S.D. Tex. Nov. 17, 2020), arose out of failed discussions between potential investors in an oil and gas development project. Ultimately, the Court concluded that the plaintiff Recif Resources, LLC (Recif) failed to present evidence showing that its alleged trade secrets had economic value or that the defendants, collectively called Juniper, used those trade secrets.
Continue Reading Failure to Prove Independent Economic Value in Oil & Gas Trade Secrets Case

The case of Phazr, Inc. v. Ramakrishna, No. 3:19-CV-01188-X, 2020 WL 5526554 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 14, 2020), evaluated the pleading requirements expected of a plaintiff in a misappropriation of trade secrets claim under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA).  Ultimately, the Court determined that the plaintiff failed to meet the plausibility standard expressed in Twombly-Iqbal
Continue Reading Northern District of Texas Holds that Plaintiff Failed to Plead Claim for Trade Secrets

The case of Mesquite Servs., LLC v. Standard E&S, LLC, No. 07-19-00440-CV, 2020 WL 5540189 (Tex. App.—Amarillo Sept. 15, 2020, no pet.), arose from a dispute over a non-compete agreement and examined the role that the former version of the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) can play in a misappropriation of trade secrets claim under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA). Ultimately, the Seventh Court of Appeals, Amarillo concluded that conclusory allegations, without more, did not meet the clear and specific evidence standard prescribed under the TCPA.
Continue Reading Conclusory Allegations Do Not Meet the Clear and Specific Evidence Standard under the TCPA

The case of KBIDC Investments, LLC v. Zuru Toys Inc., No. 05-19-00159-CV, 2020 WL 5988014 (Tex. App.—Dallas Oct. 9, 2020, no pet.), involved a dispute between two inventors who each created a system for filling and sealing recreational water balloons. Ultimately, the Court determined that the plaintiff in the case, KBIDC Investments (KBIDC), presented evidence that was too indefinite and uncertain to constitute circumstantial evidence of misappropriation of a trade secret under the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act (TUTSA).
Continue Reading Vague Facts Insufficient to Support Trade Secrets Claim

The case of Infinity Sys., Inc. v. Gray Mech. Contractors, LLC, No. 01-19-00253-CV, 2020 WL 5637505 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Sept. 22, 2020, no pet.), a Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) case, involved a motion to dismiss under the previous version of the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA).  Ultimately, the First Court of Appeals, Houston determined that private communications between parties who communicate for personal, pecuniary gain are not protected by the TCPA.
Continue Reading The TCPA Does Not Apply to Purely Private Communications for Pecuniary Gain

Winning a trade secret misappropriation case at the summary judgment stage is difficult.  The case of C&M Oilfield Rentals, LLC v. Location Illuminator Techs., LLC, No. P:18-CV-039-DC, 2020 WL 7012008 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 30, 2020) illustrates that point.  C&M Oilfield Rentals involved the alleged misappropriation of trade secrets used to construct an oil rig-mounted lighting system. Ultimately, the Court determined that it could not decide this case at the summary judgement stage because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether a trade secret existed and whether the defendant used an alleged trade secret.
Continue Reading The Difficulties of Winning a Trade Secrets Case at the Summary Judgment Stage

Title Source, Inc. v. HouseCanary, Inc., No. 04-19-00044-CV, 2020 WL 5027667 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Aug. 26, 2020, pet. granted) is a new case addressing the jury charge in Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) cases.  In a previous post, I discussed the Casteel problem in the misappropriation instructions that resulted in reversal of this multi-million dollar judgment and the court’s evaluation of the evidence supporting the existence of the trade secrets. (For complete discussion of the facts, please see this previous blog post.  Since I wrote that post, the Court withdrew its earlier opinion and held, in addition to its previous holdings, that HouseCanary must also retry its breach of non-disclosure agreement claims if it elects on remand to retry its TUTSA claims because the claims were not separable from each other without unfairness to the parties.)
Continue Reading Even More Lessons from Title Source v. HouseCanary