After granting summary judgment for plaintiff in late November 2007, Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently awarded plaintiff $6.6 million in damages, the majority of which related to future lost profits due to breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. Although the motion for summary judgment was uncontested, the court’s ruling and damages award highlights the importance non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements can play in trade secret disputes.
Plaintiff Oculus Innovative Sciences Inc. entered into non-disclosure and purchase agreements with Nofil Corp. related Oculus’ MicrocynTM disinfectant, antiseptic and sterilization technology. Under the agreements, Nofil agreed to manufacture certain machines for the production of MicrocynTM and to not disclose confidential information obtained from Oculus.
After ruling that Nofil had breached the agreements, the court held that Nofil had misappropriated Oculus’ trade secrets. The court first held that Oculus had established the existence of a trade secret through reference to language in the non-disclosure and purchase agreements ("while the Court does not find this evidence to be overwhelming, it will assume for present purposes that Oculus can establish the presence of some trade secrets that fall within the scope of the [non-disclosure agreement]").
The court then determined that Nofil had misappropriated such trade secrets through its manufacture and sale to a competitor in Mexico of two machines covered by the agreements between the parties . Specifically, the court found persuasive PMC, Inc. v. Kadisha, 78 Cal. App. 4th 1368 (2000), which held that "[e]mploying … confidential information in manufacturing, production, research or development, marketing goods that embody the trade secret, or soliciting customers through the use of the trade secret information, all constitute use."
In a January 23, 2008 Order, the Court awarded Oculus $916,206 for lost profits for 2006 through part of 2008. The Court awarded future lost profits of $5,727,829 for a period of 5 ½ years discounted to present value.
The case is Oculus Innovative Sciences, Inc. v. Nofil Corporation, et al., Case No. 06-1686, N.D. Cal. 2006.