The Woburn Daily Times Chronicle has reported that iRobot Corp., a Burlington, MA corporation, has been granted a preliminary injunction in the District of Massachusetts in its case against Robotic FX, Inc., and its founder and president, former iRobot employee Jameel Ahed. iRobot is suing Ahed and Robotic for misappropriation of trade secrets.

iRobot’s lawsuit alleges that Robotic used iRobot’s trade secrets to develop the Negotiator, a replica of iRobot’s PackBot robot. iRobot describes the PackBot robots as “robots that perform dull, dirty or dangerous missions in a better way.” The PackBots were the first ground robots to be used in combat by U.S. forces.

The U.S. Army had a $280 million contract with Robotic for use of the Negotiator, but set aside the contract in October pending a re-examination of Robotic’s ability to deliver the Negotiator “as a responsible contractor.” The Army has notified both Robotic and iRobot that if Robotic is unable to provide the Negotiator, the contract will be awarded to iRobot instead.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner found that iRobot had shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its case. The exact terms of the order are under seal so as to further protect iRobot’s trade secrets; however, iRobot reports that the injunction prohibits Robotic from using “critical features” in the design of the Negotiator.

iRobot has a separate lawsuit pending in the Northern District of Alabama for patent infringement. iRobot sought the injunction in Massachusetts after discovering that Robotic had attempted to destroy evidence in both the Alabama case and the Massachusetts case. Judge Gertner ordered a trial date of no later than April 7, 2008.