Texas Citizens Participation Act

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how the Fort Worth Court of Appeals restricted the scope of Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) by determining that the “common interest” in the definition of “right of association” under the TCPA requires interests that are “shared by the public or at least a group.”  This is a holding that arguably conflicts with other courts of appeals that have held that the “right of association” is implicated in situations where alleged tortfeasors are working together to further a competing business or other interest “common” to the tortfeasors.
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As discussed in previous posts, multiple Texas cases have held that Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) applies in most commercial litigation cases. In a recent string of decisions, though, the Dallas Court of Appeals is attempting to restrict the application of the TCPA to commercial litigation cases.
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If you have been following this blog, you know that a frequent topic is the application of Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute–the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA)–to the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act.  In cases such as Craig v. Tejas Promotions, LLC, 550 S.W.3d 287 (Tex. App.–Austin 2018, pet. filed) and Elite Auto Body LLC v. Autocraft Bodywerks, Inc., 520 S.W.3d 191 (Tex. App.–Austin 2017, pet. denied), the Austin Court of Appeals held that a petition alleging that two conspirators are working together to misappropriate a competitor’s trade secrets implicates the right of association prong of the TCPA.  In a surprising new opinion, though, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals indicates that it is not going to follow these holdings.
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Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute, the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), can apply to a variety of commercial litigation claims, including claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).  If the TCPA is invoked in a case and is found to apply, the plaintiff must respond with clear and specific evidence of the prima facie elements of its causes of action.  Recently, the Texas Supreme Court addressed what evidence would satisfy plaintiff’s burden to establish causation and damages.
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A plaintiff who believes its trade secrets have been misappropriated can pursue those claims in either federal or state court. One of the advantages of choosing federal court is the growing body of case law holding that the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute, does not apply in federal court.
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One of the most common defenses to a misappropriation of trade secrets case under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) is to file a motion to dismiss under Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). The defendants in Mancilla v. Taxfree Shopping, Ltd, No. 05-18-00136-CV, 2018 WL 6850951 (Tex. App.—Dallas Nov. 16, 2018, no pet.) employed the TCPA to defend against plaintiff’s TUTSA claim. Unfortunately, though, the defendants were too late in filing the motion.
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As previously mentioned in this blog, one of the biggest issues in trade secrets litigation in Texas is the application of the state’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) to claims under the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act (TUTSA). Because of the broad language of the TCPA, defendants can file a TCPA motion to dismiss in almost any trade secrets case.

On June 2, 2019, Governor Abbott signed a bill to change that.
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If you have been following Texas cases on the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA), you know that a plaintiff that files a TUTSA claims will almost inevitably receive in response a motion to dismiss under Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). This is what happened in Gaskamp v. WSP USA, Inc., No. 01-18-00079-CV, 2018 WL 6695810 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 20, 2018, no pet. h.), and Gaskamp provides some important reminders—for both plaintiffs and defendants—on how to handle that motion and the inevitable appeal.
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If you have been reading this blog, you know that I have frequently commented on the use of Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) to defeat a Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) claim. Most of the early cases involved defendants using the TCPA to dismiss a plaintiff’s TUTSA claim. Universal Plant Services, Inc. v. Dresser-Rand Group, Inc., No. 01-17-00555-CV, 2018 WL 6695813 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 20, 2018, no pet.) involves a plaintiff overcoming defendants’ TCPA motions.
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If you have been following my blog, you know that Texas’s anti-slapp statute—the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA)—frequently applies to commercial litigation claims. McDonald Oilfield Operations, LLC v. 3B Inspection, LLC, No. 01-18-00118-CV, 2018 WL 6377432 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 6, 2018, no pet. h.) is another example of the use of the TCPA as a defense to a commercial litigation suit. In McDonald Oilfield Operations, plaintiff 3B Inspection brought claims a defamation, business disparagement, and tortious interference with contract after defendant McDonald Oilfield Operations, a competitor in the pipeline monitoring business, allegedly told one of 3B’s customers that 3B was “not a real company” and that McDonald Oilfield had suspended some 3B’s employees’ qualifications. (Three of 3B’s employees had worked for McDonald Oilfield as independent contractors and had received their credentials through McDonald Oilfield. McDonald Oilfield asserted claims that these employees had misappropriated trade secrets and stolen company property.)
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