In Jones v. Frisco Fertility Center, PLLC, No. 05-21-00008-CV, 2022 WL 17248837 (Tex. App.—Dallas Nov. 28, 2022, pet. filed), the Dallas Court of Appeals addressed whether plaintiff Frisco Fertility Center’s (FFC) request for an injunction against its former employee Dr. Jones qualified as a legal action under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). Specifically, the court of appeals addressed the meaning of the phrase “legal action” under the TCPA and whether a request for injunctive relief can serve as a separate legal action under the TCPA when the request is only a component of the relief sought in an action pending in arbitration.Continue Reading Dallas Court of Appeals Addresses the Meaning of “Legal Action” Under the TCPA
The case of AMS Sensors USA Inc. v. Renesas Elec. Am. Inc., Civil Action No. 4:08-cv-00451, 2022 WL 2918893 (E.D. Tex. July 25, 2022) considered whether a breach of confidential information agreement could be based products that did not incorporate the plaintiff’s trade secret into the products design. Ultimately, the court concluded that “use” of a trade secret was not limited to directly implementing a trade secret into a product. Rather, use included “any exploitation of the trade secret that is likely to result in [the] [p]laintiff’s injury or [d]efendant’s enrichment.” Additionally, the court concluded that a defendant’s alleged use of a plaintiff’s trade secret includes “relying on the trade secret to assist or accelerate research or development.”Continue Reading Eastern District of Texas Explores Scope of Trade Secret Use Under Confidentiality Agreement
The case of Vest Safety Medical Services, LLC v. Arbor Environmental, LLC, No. 4:20-CV-0812, 2022 WL 2812195 (S.D. Tex. June 17, 2022) dealt with two issues involving trade secrets. The first issue considered whether the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) preempted Vest’s civil conspiracy claim. Ultimately, the court concluded that TUTSA did preempt Vest’s civil conspiracy claim. In reaching this conclusion, the court relied on the fact that this claim did not rely on facts that were distinct from Vest’s TUTSA Claim. In the second issue, the court considered whether Vest provided enough evidence for its misappropriation of a trade secret claims to survive Arbor’s summary judgment. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to all elements of Vest’s misappropriation of a trade secret claims. Continue Reading Southern District of Texas Denies Motion for Summary Judgment on Trade Secrets Claim
The case of Forum Energy Technologies, Inc. v. Jason Oil & Gas Equipment, LLC, No. H-20-3768, 2022 WL 1103078 (S.D. Tex. April 13, 2022) considered whether the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) preempted Forum Energy’s claims for unfair competition, conspiracy, and/or tortious interference with prospective business relations. Ultimately, the court determined that only Forum Energy’s tortious interference with prospective business relations was preempted. In reaching this conclusion, the court determined that the underlying facts of Forum Energy’s tortious interference with prospective business relations claim was based on the same underlying facts as its TUTSA claim. However, in determining that TUTSA did not preempt Forum Energy’s other claims, the court relied on the fact that Forum Energy alleged that Jason Oil misappropriated confidential information and not trade secret information.Continue Reading Southern District of Texas Addresses the Issue of Preemption Under TUTSA
The case of Bureau Veritas Commodities and Trade, Inc. v. Cotecna Inspection SA, No. 4:21-CV-00622, 2022 WL 912781 (S.D. Tex. 2022) dealt with the application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to claims under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA). Ultimately, the Southern District of Texas determined that the Plaintiff successfully plead a claim under DTSA and TUTSA. In reaching this conclusion, the court determined that the Plaintiff was not required to plead detailed descriptions of its trade secret in a public complaint, especially without a court order in place. Continue Reading Southern District of Texas Explains Pleading Requirement for Trade Secrets Cases
As noted on this blog, litigation under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) often involves sealing court records according to the procedures of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 76a. Currently, the Texas Legislature is considering a bill to streamline the sealing process for trade secret litigants. In last fall’s issue of the The Advocate, Brackett & Ellis‘s Joe Cleveland and Dillon Minick explained why this change is needed. Continue Reading Brackett & Ellis Attorneys Publish Article Regarding the Problems with Texas’s Procedure for Sealing Court Records
In the case of Scientific Machine & Welding, Inc. v. Rose, No. 03-20-00564-CV, 2022 WL 850409 (Tex. App.—Austin Mar. 23, 2022, no pet.), the Texas Court of Appeals determined (1) if the steps taken by the plaintiff amounted to a “reasonable measure” of keeping the relative information a trade secret, (2) whether Scientific came forth with legally sufficient evidence to support claims of breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, (3), whether Scientific’s claim of a “breach of implied contract of confidentiality” existed under Texas Law. Continue Reading Texas Court of Appeal Evaluates What Actions Constitute “Reasonable Measures” to Keep a Trade Secret
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 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
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