Monday, June 05, 2006, 6/05/2006 02:48:00 PM

Specify Your Trade Secrets (or Suffer the Consequences)

From the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, an opinion on what happens when a plaintiff fails to specify just what its trade secrets are.

In SL Montevideo Technology, Inc. v. Eaton Aerospace, LLC, 2006 WL 1472860 (D.Minn. May 26, 2006), the court dealt with defendant's Rule 50 motion for judgment as a matter of law after two weeks of testimony in a trade secrets case. Plaintiff contended that its motor design, as whole, was a trade secret and copied by defendant. It also contended that certain individual aspects contained in the motors were trade secrets as well.

Plaintiff argued that the performance specifications of the two motors were so close that defendant's motor must have been copied from plaintiff's. The court cited the Minnesota Supreme Court which had ruled that "[s]imply to assert a trade secret resides in some combination of otherwise known data is not sufficient, as the combination itself must be delineated with some particularity in establishing its trade secret status." The court ruled that plaintiff had failed to identify the dimensions of the "guts" of the motor or how the specific component parts of the motor make up a trade secret when taken together.

Judgment for defendant.

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