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Trade Secrets

Finnegan defended Xylem in a case brought by an individual, Ron Roberts, for alleged misappropriation of an idea for a deodorizing device for marine toilets on boats.  Roberts and Xylem had executed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (“NDA”) that specifically excluded from its coverage information in the “public domain” at the time of its disclosure.  Roberts then showed Xylem his deodorizing device, and the parties engaged in licensing negotiations for some time.  Xylem eventually signed the license agreement, but Roberts never executed the agreement, and instead filed lawsuit against Xylem, claiming the license his UK lawyer negotiated on his behalf was unfair.  Roberts alleged idea misappropriation, breach of the NDA, and unjust enrichment.  Finnegan asserted that far from a trade secret, Roberts’ device was in the “public domain” at the time of its disclosure to Xylem.  Finnegan retained a prominent marine sanitation expert, known as the “Head Mistress” in the industry, who has for many years been a leading voice in the field of marine toilets/boat sanitation.  Working with the expert, Finnegan identified third-party devices for deodorizing toilets to challenge Roberts’ claim that his device/technology was novel. From the outset, Finnegan also focused on minimizing potential damages in the case.  Roberts claimed that he was entitled to a substantial reasonable royalty on future sales of his marine toilet devices.  With the help of its marine sanitation expert and Xylem’s engineers, Finnegan located various third-party devices for sanitizing toilets on boats and reached out to their makers to show that the devices were not big sellers and that Roberts’ device likewise did not have the sales potential Roberts alleged.  The case eventually settled to the client’s satisfaction.
The Superior Court of California, Santa Clara, granted summary judgment in favor of Finnegan client RichWave Technology Corporation in a trade-secret misappropriation case involving wireless communication technology. The court’s judgment resolved all of plaintiff Epic Communication’s claims for trade-secret misappropriation, fraud and misrepresentation, conspiracy, and unfair competition. Finnegan took over the representation of the two remaining defendants after the case had been pending for four years. In reviewing the record, we formulated an argument not asserted by the previous counsel and established that the plaintiff’s agreement with a third party provides a complete release for our clients. Within two months after taking over the case, Finnegan filed a motion for summary judgment based on the agreement, and three months after that, the court granted summary judgment that the agreement released both defendants.
Finnegan represented an LG Electronics (“LGE”) subsidiary involved in iris recognition technology in a patent infringement case. The patentee accused LGE of violating a license agreement, misappropriating trade secrets, and infringing the patentee’s U.S. patents. Both sides filed antitrust and unfair competition counterclaims. The patentee also filed foreign corrupt practices act claims after losing several large foreign public tenders involving the technology to LGE. Finnegan was lead counsel on both the intellectual property (patent and trade secret) and the antitrust and unfair competition claims, and secured an extremely favorable resolution of all claims, enabling LGE to purchase the critical software and continue using the underlying technology.