A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Trade Secret
Trade Secret

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In another part of the opinion mentioned earlier today, Judge Burke set forth his views on the scope of discovery in a trade secret action—an issue that comes up a lot, along with the related issue of the disclosure of the alleged trade secrets:

As to what is not relevant trade secret discovery: what [Plaintiff] is not entitled to do is to set out a claim in Count IX for trade secret misappropriation—i.e., a claim involving a certain set of alleged facts, occurring in a certain alleged time frame, involving a certain referenced set of persons and a certain type of purported misconduct—and then say to [Defendant], “Now that we have …

Judge Burke yesterday unsealed a lengthy opinion addressing a range of discovery disputes in a pending trade secret litigation.

In one instance, plaintiff sought to force a further response to a broad interrogatory, and complained that Defendant's broad answer omitted important time periods. The interrogatory asked:

[D]escribe in detail the stage of R&D, design, documentation, clinical work, marketing and/or sales of the [relevant product] at the time [Defendant] or anyone on behalf of [Defendant] was in first contact with any Former [Plaintiff] Employee . . . .

Judge Burke denied the request, noting that the time periods Plaintiff complained about were from before the alleged trade secret theft, and therefore it was not clear why they were relevant. He also …

In trade secret litigation, parties often fight bitterly over the level of particularity with which the party asserting misappropriation has described its trade secrets. That dispute frequently plays out in connection with interrogatory responses or other trade secret contentions, served after the initial pleadings are closed.

However, it can arise earlier in the case. In a recent order, Judge Andrews dismissed a federal trade secret misappropriation claim under Rule 12(b)(6) because the complaint identified "large, general areas of information that Plaintiff alleges to have shared with Defendant" but failed to "identify what the trade secrets are within those general areas."

Notably, the order, issued in Lithero, LLC v. Astrazeneca Pharms. LP, C.A. No. 19-2320-RGA (D. Del.), states …