Monday, August 30, 2010, 8/30/2010 09:36:00 AM

University of Minnesota Professor at the Center of Anti-oxidant Trade Secret Fight

By Todd

TwinCities.com is reporting on an interesting issue in trade secrets law: can an insider release trade secrets maintained by a corporation and invalidate those trade secrets without any authorization or knowledge of the corporation? The answer would seem to be "of course" but this is an issue that will surely be litigated in this matter.


Rain Nutrition is based in Utah. It wanted research for new products and went to one of the world-recognized experts for that research, Dr. Arnold Leonard at the University of Minnesota. Botanic Oils Innovation, Inc. also has a commercial relationship with Dr. Leonard and his research - he was instrumental is developing the research for their anti-oxidant supplements and has been part of their management team since 2003.


But, and one wonders if university professors are skilled in smelling a conflict when one is in the air, seems Dr. Leonard entered into a $6,000 per month arrangement with Rain Nutrition to supply them research and actually supplied them research pursuant to that deal. And now we have a full-blown lawsuit. Of course, Botanic Oils has not sued Dr. Leonard himself - even though he was allegedly the conduit through which the purported trade secrets got into Rain Nutrition's hands.


This is going to be a procedural battle before it becomes a substantive one. We are making an early bet: somehow the parties see the sense in allowing Rain Nutrition to license certain research from Botanic Oils. We'll keep our eyes and ears open for future developments.

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