- Trade Secret
A software designer creates a program designed to allow financial advisors, financial institutions, and a retirement investor to all talk to each other in an integrated way. Of course, once this works, a big fish swims into the picture, gobbles up one partner in the software venture, and cuts the other partner out of business by creating software that looks an awful lot like the original.
We conducted two rounds of modified focus groups. The first involved attorney presentations that had the entire range of case facts included. The second round was more restricted, giving a presentation on just the key trade secrets that were created, then taken, as opposed to the defense’s presentation saying that the new software was created independently and/or with property that was jointly owned by the partners at the time they bought out one of the partners.
What we learned that helped resolve the case:
- Jurors did not understand the concept of trade secrets, but focused more on the breach of contract issues. This would not have put us into the treble damage arena, however.
- A step-by-step “mini-lecture” on trade secrets in general and the 5 allegedly purloined trade secrets in this case was created for the expert witness to use and to use in closing. This allowed jurors to rank order the importance of each of the 5 secrets, told us which ones had been taken, and showed us that this put the primary emphasis on the trade secrets without losing the breach of contract as an element of the case.
$61,000,000 for the plaintiffs.