Friday, May 09, 2008, 5/09/2008 09:47:00 AM

Jurors "Outraged" By Trade Secret Claims Made In Texas

By Todd
Here's a relative rarity - a trade secrets misappropriation case that goes to a full jury trial and verdict. National Oilwell Varco is an oil field parts seller. It had some long-term employees leave without any noncompete agreements restricting their re-employment in the industry. That said, National Oilwell Varco sued the employees on a trade secrets misappropriation theory and alleged that the employees took with them key information about clients - including, for example, a "40 year collection of business cards" and "product and vendor lists available online."

The really interesting part of this news piece, however, is the jury's reaction to the four-week trial. Their comments included "the overall feeling was that they didn't want employees to go, and if you tried to leave, they want you married to the company. Its president said if laid off, an ex-employee should reasonably be expected to move to Nebraska if they wanted to stay in the same business" and "there wasn't enough evidence to back up their claim. The whole deal seemed a waste of four weeks."

NOW, that's a nice lesson for attorneys. Taking a juror out of their life routine and sitting them in a box for four weeks while you attempt to prove that your client's secrets have been stolen requires some dexterity. These jurors were "outraged" by the employer's attempts in this matter. That juries often decide these cases at trial should not be forgotten.

Have a good weekend.

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