Weco Supply co. v. Sherwin-Williams Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets
  • Date Filed: 05-25-2012
  • Case #: CV-00171 AWI BAM
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ishii
  • Full Text Opinion

A “supplier/jobber" relationship does not create a duty of confidentiality.

Opinion (Ishii): Sherwin-Williams, a paint manufacturer, supplied Weco, a paint retailer, with paint pursuant to a “Direct Jobber agreement.” Weco derived a large portion of their business supplying “Western” Sherwin-Williams paint to two auto body companies. In 2007 Sherwin-Williams announced that it would no longer produce “Western” style paint. Weco responded to the announcement by ordering large quantities of “Western” paint from Sherwin-Williams and contacting the auto body companies to explore alternative paint supply companies once Weco’s supply of “Western” paint was exhausted. Sherwin-Williams contacted the auto body companies and offered to sell them paint directly at a cost less than that offered by Weco. Weco brought suit claiming that Waco’s pricing to end users and cost of product acquisition were trade secrets and that, “due to its longstanding supplier/jobber relationship,” Sherwin-Williams was obliged to keep its acquired knowledge of Waco’s pricing confidential. The Court found no merit to the proposition that the “supplier/jobber relationship” created a duty of confidentiality and that Weco’s costs and pricing were not trade secrets. The Court GRANTED defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

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