Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 12/12/2006 11:50:00 AM

Greenies Chew for Dogs and Trade Secrets

By Todd

We admit that we don't own a dog, other than our law firm's bulldog mascot named "Winston." Apparently, dogs love to chew something called "Greenies." The company that used to make Greenies was apparently acquired by Mars, Inc. Mars, Inc. decided it would produce and market a "new" Greenies dog chew and depart from the old method of making it. MGP Ingredients used to supply ingredients for the old "Greenies" and also supplied a lot of information about how to make the "new" Greenies that Mars sold. So they sued Mars for misappropriation of trade secrets. Mars moved to dismiss. The report of the court's handling of the dispute is identified below:

"Mars asks the court to dismiss MGPI's misappropriation of trade secrets claim because, Mars contends, MGPI has failed to plead an adequate trade secret under the Kansas Uniform Trade Secrets Act ("KUTSA"). Defendants' rationale is that MGPI's alleged trade secrets are either (1) not owned by MGPI, and therefore not actionable; (2) disclosed by MGPI's patent, and therefore generally known; or (3) described in vague or conclusory terms that fail to satisfy Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court finds that this argument is wholly without merit because it misconstrues and mischaracterizes the allegations in MGPI's complaint."

The Court reasoned that: "MGPI points out that the complaint alleges that SMN gave Mars access to the Greenies® formulation improvements (Compl.(doc.# 1), ¶ 16, at 4) and that Mars developed its purportedly "totally new" formulation which, in fact, took advantage of technical advances that MGPI and SMN developed for the improved Greenies® formulation (id. ¶ 22, at 5). Under the terms of the Confidential Technology Development Agreement, MGPI and SMN were to own the Greenies® formulation improvements on a 50/50 basis, thus indicating that these improvements should not have been generally known to or readily ascertainable by others, such as Mars. Based on these allegations, the court has no difficulty concluding that plaintiff has set forth sufficient factual allegations from which it can be inferred that the information Mars allegedly misappropriated constituted a trade secret. Consequently, it does not appear beyond a doubt that MGPI can prove no set of facts under which it would be entitled to relief on its trade secrets claim. Accordingly, this aspect of defendants' motion to dismiss is also denied."

The case can be cited as MGP Ingredient, Inc. v. Mars, Inc., 2006 WL 3530726 (December 7, 2006, D. Kan.).
back to top