Saturday, August 13, 2005

Interesting case under the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act

In Check 'n' Go of Virginia, Inc. v. Laserre, Magistrate Judge Urbanski opined that the plaintiff had proved misappropriation of its trade secrets, but failed to prove any damages. The plaintiff is in the paycheck loan business. The company's parent had paid Deloitte Touche to develop a policies and procedures manual. The defendant hired away the company's manager, who cribbed from the plaintiff's manual in writing an 18-page manual for her new employer.

My favorite sentence was this: "For some inexplicable reason, Eleanor Anderson, then manager of [the defendant's] Lynchburg store . . . faxed Saunders’ 18-page document to [the plaintiff]." This was not helpful.

The conclusion that the manual included protectable trade secrets seems iffy to me (it's not like it contained the secret formula for Kentucky Fried Chicken or Coke or even Gatorade), but then again the opinion does not give away the secrets, and so the reader can't quite evaluate whatever was in there.

On damages, it appears that the Court agreed that "a reasonable royalty be calculated based on an estimate of the percentage of the development costs incurred to create the 18 pages that it proved were misappropriated," but concluded that since the parent rather than the plaintiff had paid to develop the manual, the plaintiff was not entitled to any recovery.

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