Justia Patents Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in White Collar Crime
Attia v. Google, LLC
Attia developed architecture technology called “Engineered Architecture” (EA). Google and Attia worked together on “Project Genie” to implement EA. Attia disclosed his EA trade secrets with the understanding that he would be compensated if the program were successful. After Attia executed patent assignments Google filed patent applications relating to the EA trade secrets and showed a prototype of the EA technology to investors. The patents were published in 2012. Google then allegedly excluded Attia from the project and used Attia’s EA technology to create a new venture. Attia sued Google for state law trade secret and contract claims. After Congress enacted the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), 130 Stat. 376, making criminal misappropriation of a trade secret a predicate act under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Attia added RICO claims, 18 U.S.C. 1962(c). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the RICO and DTSA claims. The misappropriation of a trade secret before the enactment of the DTSA does not preclude a claim arising from post-enactment misappropriation or continued use of the same trade secret but Attia lacked standing to assert a DTSA claim. Google’s 2012 patent applications placed the information in the public domain and extinguished its trade secret status. The court rejected an argument that Google was equitably estopped from using the publication of its patent applications to defend against the DTSA claim. View "Attia v. Google, LLC" on Justia Law
ABB Turbo Sys. AG v. TurboUSA, Inc.
ABB designs, produces, and sells exhaust-gas turbochargers and turbocharger parts, primarily for use in large, ocean-going vessels and in power plants. In 2012, ABB filed suit, accusing TurboUSA, Inc., and TurboNed Service B.V. of infringing two of ABB’s turbocharger-related patents. Claiming that the infringement was willful, ABB alleged that its former employee had improperly obtained and transferred to TurboUSA confidential information relating to ABB parts embodying its patented inventions. After filing its original complaint, ABB received information that, it alleges, suggested that Hans Franken, who worked for ABB until 1986 and is TurboNed’s former owner and TurboUSA’s current indirect owner, and his son Willem, who is TurboUSA’s current president, collaborated in the covert misappropriation of ABB’s trade secrets concerning the design, manufacture, servicing, and pricing of ABB’s turbochargers and parts, and added claims of misappropriation of trade secrets under Fla. Stat. 688.001–688.009 and of civil conspiracy to misappropriate trade secrets. Before discovery, the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that the court relied on judgments about the merits that go beyond what is authorized at the complaint stage. View "ABB Turbo Sys. AG v. TurboUSA, Inc." on Justia Law