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Posts Tagged ‘Damages’

Tenth Circuit Denies Prejudgment Interest for Lack of Certainty Even Where Jury Found Lost Profits and Awarded Unjust Enrichment

In Damages, Prejudgment Interest, Sister State Construction of UTSA on August 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm
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In a trade secrets case where the jury awarded plaintiff ClearOne Communications, Inc. damages on lost profits and unjust enrichment, the Tenth Circuit held that prejudgment interest was not appropriate because the damages calculations were based on speculation and assumptions and lacked the mathematical certainty required to justify an award of prejudgment interest.  ClearOne Communications v. Chang, et al., 2011 WL 3468215, No. 09-4128 (10th Cir. Aug. 9, 2011) (slip op.).

Background

ClearOne licensed to Biamp Systems Corporation an acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) algorithm for an average price of $83.49 per channel in 2002. Id. *1. In 2004, WideBand Solutions, Inc. and associated individual defendants agreed to develop AEC software for Biamp and allegedly developed said software based upon ClearOne’s trade secret computer code. Id. Biamp stopped making payments to ClearOne and instead began a licensing agreement with WideBand in 2005. Id. Biamp allegedly used the infringing code to develop its product.  Id. In 2006, Biamp developed its own technology and stopped licensing WideBand’s allegedly illicit code. Id.

Damages Calculations

ClearOne’s damages expert Richard Hoffman calculated lost profits and unjust enrichment. Id. Hoffman calculated lost profits by multiplying the number of channels Biamp licensed from WideBand by $83.49 (the average price per channel from the ClearOne/Biamp contract). Id. The jury found that ClearOne was entitled to $956,000 in lost profits against the WideBand defendants, and $956,000 in lost profits against Biamp. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

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Approaches to Damages in Trade Secret Cases

In Damages, Practice articles, Reasonable Royalty, Unjust enrichment on October 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm
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Once a trade secret lawsuit progress beyond the preliminary injunction stage, the key battleground usually shifts to damages.  Assessing damages can be particularly difficult in a trade secret case because of the problematic uncertainty in measuring the value of trade secrets.  Marc Pensabene and Christopher Loh summarized some of the flexible approaches that plaintiffs and defendants might pursue in arguing for and against trade secrets damages calculations.

From the plaintiff’s perspective, the authors offer the following aggressive approaches (not all of which have been accepted by California courts):

  • In calculating lost profits, argue that the amounts should include not only lost sales that were diverted from the plaintiff to the defendant, but also losses attributable to price erosion or to increased costs cause by the misappropriation, such as the costs of an advertising campaign to recoup market share stolen by defendant
  • Argue for provable future profits, overhead costs, general and administrative expenses, lost profits on reorder or spare parts or other natural follow-on items
  • Ask the court to calculate plaintiff’s lost profits by applying the defendant’s profit margins to the plaintiff’s lost sales
  • In seeking unjust enrichment, if the defendant does not incorporate the trade secret into a product but rather uses it to promote its existing products or to develop new and different products, ask for a portion from those products
  • If plaintiff is unable to prove lost profits or unjust enrichment, seek development costs (so-called “head-start” damages), the diminution of the value of the plaintiff’s business or stock, or a reasonable royalty based either on the actual royalties that have been paid to the plaintiff, or a hypothetical royalty that the litigants would have negotiated at the time of the misappropriation Read the rest of this entry »

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Awards Judgment of $3,135 in Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Case Involving Former Sales Employees

In Verdicts on September 2, 2010 at 8:11 am
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A former employer was awarded $3,135 in compensatory damages after a Los Angeles Superior Court bench trial related to former sales employees’ alleged misappropriation of trade secrets .   LifeSource Water Systems Inc. vs. Stansfield, GC041297, 36 Trials Digest 13th 12 (Judgment Date May 4, 2009).   Plaintiff filed suit for breach of written contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, and interference with prospective economic advantage.  According to Trials Digest, the court issued a permanent injunction, ordered defendants to deliver all of plaintiff’s property in their possession, ordered Stansfield to pay $1,940 compensatory damages and ordered Kline to pay $1,195 compensatory damages. Read the rest of this entry »

Morrison & Foerster Wins $9.36 Million in Compensatory Damages and $1.525 Million in Punitive Damages in Trade Secrets Trial

In Verdicts on August 6, 2010 at 8:23 am
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A San Francisco Superior Court jury granted $1.525 million in punitive damages Friday to Technology Information Group, adding to the $9.36 million in compensatory damages it awarded to the company a day earlier in a trade secrets dispute with its former employees and a competitor. As reported in law360.com, the “jury found San Francisco-based FusionStorm, three of its executive officers and three former TIG employees who were hired by FusionStorm liable for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of loyalty, misappropriation of trade secrets and other causes of action . . . .”

The complaint alleged that the improper conduct began while the former employees still worked at TIG’s Tampa, Fla., offices. The former employees were accused of trying to lure away other of TIG’s employees and customers to FusionStorm, which was then setting up in the area. TIG filed its lawsuit in 2007 and won a temporary restraining order that enjoined FusionStorm from soliciting additional TIG employees and from conducting business with certain customers, MoFo said.

The jury verdict comes after a five-week trial.  FusionStorm was represented by Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.  TIG was represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP.  The docket may be viewed here.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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