AutoPartSource, LLC v. Bruton

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets, Misappropriation
  • Date Filed: 07-16-2013
  • Case #: 3:13cv54-HEH
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: E.D. Va.
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99396
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 3756019
  • Full Text Opinion

Misappropriation is defined as acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means.

Opinion (Hudson): Autopartsource, LLC ("Autopartsource") manufactures and distributes aftermarket automobile parts. Stephen C. Bruton ("Bruton") was an employee of Autopartsource who reassigned Bruton to spearhead its effort to develop business in China. Bruton formed a new company, BBH Source Group, LLC ("BBH"), to compete directly with Autopartsource. Bruton allegedly misappropriated numerous Autopartsource trade secrets to his new company's benefit. In December 2012, when Bruton's actions were discovered, he was fired immediately at which time he allegedly broke into Autopartsource's California facility and deleted much of their databases containing the subject trade secrets. Autopartsource brought this lawsuit against BBH and Bruton. Under the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act ("VUTSA"), misappropriation is defined as acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means. Bruton used his position at Autopartsource to acquire confidential and proprietary information from his employer, including databases of current and prospective vendors, product quality data, cost and pricing data, and historical sales data. The court found that Autpartsource prevailed in its VUTSA claim against Bruton and BBH, and GRANTED injunctive relief.

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