By Joshua Salinas and Jessica Mendelson

The secret is out, Tic Tacs and bubblegum have the most valuable and desirable real estate in the entire grocery store.

On September 27, 2012, a district court for the Eastern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss in a commercial dispute arising out of the
Continue Reading New York Federal Court Rejects Heightened Specificity Pleading Standard for Breach of Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Claim

By Robert Milligan and Jeffrey Oh

In business, as in life, trust and communication are key to healthy and productive relationships. When these crucial elements are lost, as in the case of What 4 LLC v. Roman & Williams, Inc., 2012 WL 1815629 (N.D.Cal.), the fallout is often contentious and requires court intervention.

In a recent decision granting in

Continue Reading California Federal District Court Finds That Plaintiffs May Assert A Claim For Alleged Misleading Actions of Agent and Misuse of Confidential Information Not Rising To Level Of A Trade Secret In Youth Hostel Dispute

On March 29, 2012, the Seventh Circuit upheld summary judgment in favor of a defendant on plaintiff’s claims for trade secrets misappropriation and unjust enrichment, holding that plaintiff failed to take any measures, let alone reasonable measures, to protect its alleged trade secrets during joint marketing negotiations with defendant. Fail-Safe LLC v. A.O. Smith Corp., No. 11-1354 (7th Cir.

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Rejects Pool Technology Company’s Trade Secrets Claim

In Coleman v. Retina Consultants, P.C., the Georgia Supreme Court reversed a trial court’s decision to enjoin a former employee based on his non-compete provision, but it upheld the injunction to the extent that it prevented the employee from using his former employer’s trade secrets. The case is especially interesting from a factual perspective, as it covers the increasingly common

Continue Reading Trade Secret Claim Wins Out to Protect Software.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently affirmed the denial of jurisdiction by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia over two companies foreign to the Commonwealth of Virginia. See Consulting Engineers Corp. v. Geometric, Ltd., — F.3d —, 2009 WL 738165 (4th Cir. Mar. 23, 2009). Consulting Engineers Corporation (“CEC”) sued

Continue Reading Consulting Engineers Corp. v. Geometric, Ltd.: Fourth Circuit Holds That Negotiating Non-Competition Agreements Does Not Subject A Company To Personal Jurisdiction

In Global Link Logistics, Inc. v. Briles, No. A08A1871, (Ga. App. Feb. 18, 2009), the Georgia Court of Appeals recently reiterated Georgia court’s requirements for non-compete and non-disclosure covenants. The case involved the departure of Jim Briles from Global Link Logistics to a competitor. Briles moved for a declaratory judgment stating that the restrictive covenants in his employment agreement &ndash

Continue Reading Georgia Court of Appeals Repeats Requirements for Non-compete and Non-disclosure Covenants

This morning (September 24, 2008), Rep. Kevin Levitas and Sen. Judson Hill from the Georgia Legislature convened the first meeting of a legislative study committee reviewing the law of Georgia with respect to restrictive covenants in employment and business relationships. The House Committee is chaired by Representative Kevin Levitas, and includes the following members: Representative Tim Bearden; Representative Butch Parrish;

Continue Reading Georgia House & Senate Committees Meet to Consider Restrictive Covenants in the Commercial Arena

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.

Continue Reading Northern District of California Grants Preliminary Injunction in Trade Secrets Matter

A federal court in the Southern District of California recently burst the bubble on a plaintiff’s suit alleging that the defendant, the alleged creator of a novelty chewing gum product, had stolen the plaintiff’s idea for a NASCAR-themed bubble “chew” by granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The decision provides a reminder to companies that provide confidential and trade secret information to others under non-disclosure agreements that they need to follow the precise terms of those agreements, including properly designating all information that they seek to protect, otherwise they run the risk of their information being exposed and compromised.

In the colorful case, Hoffman v. Impact Confections, Inc., Case No. 06cv0489 BTM (NLS), 2008 WL 413751 (S.D. Cal.), the plaintiff alleged that together with a partner they established a bubble gum company named Ollie Pop Bubble Gum, Inc. (“Ollie Pop”). Plaintiff claimed that he came up with the concept of marketing novelty gum and candy “which was designed to combine the popularity of NASCAR and its drivers with the lure of the chew tobacco favored by many of NASCAR’s fans by providing a gum or candy in an original new packaging intended to appeal to all ages.” First Am. Complaint 11.

Plaintiff alleged that he contemplated two different packaging options, both to be sold under the mark “Pit Crew Chew.” Id. at 12. The first packaging option was a pouch containing gum or candy and the second packaging option was a plastic container shaped like a tire and wheel that would also contain gum or candy. Id. Plaintiff’s idea purportedly was to have the products licensed by NASCAR and bear NASCAR’s logos. Plaintiff also wanted to have the products endorsed by at least one NASCAR driver and display the driver’s image and/or his car and/or associated number. Id.

According to the plaintiff, he designed both packages and began working with Motorsports Management to establish a relationship between Ollie Pop and NASCAR. Id. at 13. Plaintiff claimed he entered into discussions with Joe Gibbs Racing to have one of its drivers endorse the product and allegedly was able to obtain the promise of an endorsement from Tony Stewart. Id. at 15.

Plaintiff claimed that in 2003, he entered into negotiations with the defendant regarding the marketing and selling of “Pit Crew Chew” products. Id. at 16. The parties entered into a written non-disclosure agreement in May 2003.

As part of his discussions with the defendant, plaintiff contended that he disclosed confidential information and materials to defendant, including, but not limited to, “the idea/concept of marketing and selling a NASCAR and NASCAR driver endorsed bubble gum, the idea/concept of providing gum and/or candy in a package which would appeal to NASCAR fans’ noted fondness for ‘chew,’ and the specific drawings of both the pouch and wheel to be marketed and sold.” Id. at 18. Plaintiff also claimed he introduced defendant’s employees to Motorsports employees.

According to plaintiff’s complaint, by July of 2003, defendant had submitted an application for a license to NASCAR seeking to market and sell “Pit Crew Chew” products with the NASCAR logos in place. Id. at 20. Following defendant’s submission of the licensing application to NASCAR, Motorsports allegedly informed defendant and Ollie Pop that NASCAR was indeed interested in licensing the “Pit Crew Chew” products. Id. at 21. Plaintiff alleged that by August 2003, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was interested in endorsing “Pit Crew Chew” products. Id. at 22.

Then, around the beginning of September 2003, according to plaintiff, defendant abruptly ended its relationship with Ollie Pop and plaintiff. Id. at 24. With the failure to launch “Pit Crew Chew” products, Ollie Pop encountered financial difficulties and as a result plaintiff took a controlling interest in Ollie Pop. Id. Under the deal he allegedly struck with his former partner, plaintiff claimed that Ollie Pop granted him all right, title, and interest in and to and all intellectual property rights related to the “Pit Crew Chew” mark and products, all rights of Ollie Pop under the non-disclosure agreement, and all patent and copyright rights relating to the tire and wheel design and artwork. Id. at 26.

In 2005, plaintiff allegedly obtained copyright registrations for the two-dimensional artwork on Ollie Pop’s candy wheel design. Plaintiff also claimed in 2005 he learned that defendant had launched its own product, “Champion Chew.” According to plaintiff, the product consisted of gum enclosed in a tire and wheel and was designed to bear a resemblance to “chew” tobacco. Id. at 27. Plaintiff alleged that “Champion Chew” was licensed by NASCAR and was endorsed by one of NASCAR’s drivers. Id. at 28.

Plaintiff filed suit and his first amended complaint asserted claims for: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets under California’s trade secret misappropriation statute (Cal. Civ. Code § 3426.1); (2) intentional interference with economic relationships; (3) negligent interference with economic relationships; (4) breach of contract; (5) breach of implied contract; (6) copyright infringement; (7) quantum merit; (8) unfair business practices in violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof.Code § 17200 and California common law; (9) constructive trust/accounting; and (10) injunctive relief.Continue Reading Bubble Bursts On Plaintiff Who Failed To Demonstrate That Trade Secret And Confidential Information Related To His NASCAR-Themed “Pit Crew Chew” Was Protected By Non-Disclosure Agreement