In a February 29, 2008 Order, the Northern District of California entered a preliminary injunction against four defendants on behalf of Verigy US, Inc. Verigy demonstrated in discovery that Romi Omar Mayder, the principal of Silicon Test Systems, Inc., e-mailed a number of sensitive documents to a business partner, Robert Pochowski. The documents concerned technology for testing flash memory cards.
In granting the preliminary injunction, the district court rejected a number of arguments put forward by Defendants. Defendants first argued that a difference of opinion between Verigy witnesses regarding the application of Verigy’s confidentiality policy, but the court found that the existence of such a policy, along with non-disclosure agreements, was sufficient for Verigy to show reasonable efforts to maintain the secrecy of its information.
Defendants further argued that the items alleged by Verigy to be trade secrets were publicly known elements. However, the court concluded that Verigy demonstrated that the combination of those elements was not publicly known and was therefore entitled to protection as a trade secret.
Finally, Defendants argued that the product they ultimately developed did not utilize Verigy’s trade secrets because Defendants made significant changes to the final product. The court rejected this argument, holding that Defendants’ use of Verigy’s items gave Defendants a head start in ultimately developing their final product, even if the final product varied from the Verigy plans. Additionally, the court relied upon Defendants’ misappropriation of Verigy information regarding the requirements of other vendors in concluding that Defendants’ actions gave them an unwarranted competitive advantage.
The court was also forced to grapple with the question of the duration of the injunction restricting Defendants marketing or selling their product. To answer this question, the court had to determine how much of a temporal head start Defendants obtained by misappropriating Verigy’s trade secrets. The court determined that Mayder took eight months at Verigy working on the project in question, but then elected to shorten the injunction period to five months because: (1) some of the technology used on the project was publicly available; and (2) Defendants’ final product ultimately went in a different direction than the product sold by Verigy.