Hamin Khatib v. Sun-Times Media Group, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets, Misappropriation
  • Date Filed: 04-03-2013
  • Case #: No. 12-50900
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sontchi
  • Full Text Opinion

To state a trade secrets misappropriation claim upon which relief may be granted, plaintiff must claim that the misappropriated information was in fact a trade secret.

Opinion (Sontchi): In 2002, Hamin Khatib ("Khatib") invented the “Iqraa Front-Backpack,” which he sold in several retail locations. Khatib applied for a patent for the backpack in April 2004, but never received a patent for the design. In December 2004, Khatib gave a Sun-Times Media Group ("STMG") newspaper vendor a sample backpack and literature so that the vendor inform his supervisor about the backpack. In October 2008, Khatib discovered that STMG newspaper vendors had begun using a front-backpack very similar to the Iqraa. Khatib brought suit in 2012 alleging, among other intellectual property claims, misappropriation of trade secrets. STMG moved to dismiss the complaint. To have a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets, plaintiff must have a trade secret to be misappropriated. The Court defined a trade secret as "information that (1) derives economic value from not being known to the public, and (2) is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.” Applying for a patent requires an applicant to publish the design of the invention. Publication of a trade secret destroys the secret. Thus, when Khatib applied for a patent in April 2004, he destroyed any trade secrets he might have had in the design of the Irqaa. Furthermore, even if Khatib had not applied for a patent, the design elements of the Irqaa are readily apparent to anyone who examines the backpack. Thus, by selling the Irqaa to the public, Khatib destroyed any trade secrets to its design.

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