Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 5/10/2011 11:46:00 AM

Weatherford International Asks Texas State Court to Block Former Employees From Using Trade Secrets

By Todd
Law360 is reporting that a unit of oilfield services provider Weatherford International Ltd. asked a Texas state court Friday to block its former employees from using its trade secrets at their new company in violation of a confidentiality agreement.

Weatherford Laboratories Inc. accuses ex-employees of starting a company called Wildcat Technologies LLC in order to use Weatherford's proprietary design of an oil and gas instrument, called a source rock analyzer, to make a knock-off version of it.

The former employees include Daniel M. Jarvie, an engineer who originally designed the source rock analyzer. Weatherford bought the instrument and other assets from Jarvie and his three companies, collectively called Humble, in 2007. But Jarvie and other former Humble employees decamped from Weatherford and formed a new company to sell its own version of the analyzer, according to the complaint.

"Weatherford's success in selling SRAs, and in selling services provided using its SRAs, depends on its ability to protect the trade secrets associated with the design, manufacture and assembly of the SRA," Weatherford said. "It is essential that the court act immediately because defendants are developing their own SR analyzer using Weatherford's trade secrets."

The SRA heats rock cuttings to high temperatures to measure the hydrocarbons that are cooked off, according to the complaint. Weatherford calls it one of Jarvie's most valuable assets.

After Jarvie sold his assets to Weatherford, he and Humble employees Brian Jarvie — his son — and David Weldon joined the company and signed confidentiality agreements, according to the complaint. Christian Fiot, whose company contracted with Humble to design electronic components for the SRA, also joined Weatherford, signing a confidentiality agreement, the suit says.

According to the complaint, Jarvie left Weatherford in February 2008 after getting into physical altercation with another employee, and Brian Jarvie left in July 2008.

In 2010, the Jarvies approached Fiot to manufacture a source rock analyzer with the same design as Weatherford's device, the complaint alleges. Jarvie instructed Fiot to send the invoices to the newly-formed Wildcat, which Brian Jarvie started in March 2010, instead of his own consulting firm, Worldwide Geochemistry LLC, the suit claims."Despite this clear attempt to distance himself from the conspiracy to misappropriate Weatherford's trade secrets, Dan Jarvie has obvious connections to Wildcat," Weatherford said.

Weatherford also accuses the former employees of taking proprietary rock samples and data sets used to calibrate the source rock analyzer."The samples are not generally available in the market, and Weatherford stores them at its laboratories where SRAs are manufactured [and] used," the complaint said. "Those labs are accessible only by certain Weatherford employees with electronic access keys.

Weatherford is seeking a two-week restraining order and injunction against the dissemination of Weatherford's trade secrets.

Jarvie lambasted Weatherford and the complaint Friday in an interview with Law360."It's a frivolous lawsuit but I think it's more of a vindictive lawsuit," Jarvie said. "All they're trying to do is cost me a lot of money. I'm more concerned about time. I think it's a huge mistake on their part."

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