Brian Lichtenberg, LLC v. Alex & Chloe, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets, Preliminary injunctions
  • Date Filed: 07-25-2014
  • Case #: CV 13–06837 DDP (PJWx).
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court for the Central District of California
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101999
  • Westlaw Citation: 2014 WL 3698317
  • Full Text Opinion

A preliminary injunction forbidding the use of customer and manufacturer lists is appropriate when, among other factors, the plaintiff can show it is likely to succeed on the merits.

Opinion (Pregerson): Plaintiff makes clothing and accessories that parody other well-known brands. Plaintiff's former employee, Defendant, allegedly copied and claimed ownership of certain designs. Defendant then used Plaintiff's customer and manufacturer lists to produce and market the designs. Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendant from, among other acts, utilizing Plaintiff's customer and manufacturer information. To grant a preliminary injunction, a court must find that: (i) Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (ii) Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (iii) the balancing of the hardships and equities between the parties that would result from the issuance or denial of the injunction tips in its favor; and (iv) an injunction will be in the public interest. On the first factor, the Court examined the elements required to prevail on a claim under California's Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA). A plaintiff must show that (1) he owned a trade secret, (2) the defendant acquired, used, or disclosed that secret through improper means, and (3) the plaintiff was damaged. Under the California Civil Code, a "trade secret"is information that "(1) [d]erives independent economic value ... from not being generally known to the public ...; and (2)[i]s the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy. Plaintiff produced evidence that the lists were the result of Plaintiff's time and effort, and that steps were taken to keep the lists secret. Because Defendant offered no evidence to the contrary, the Court held that Plaintiff was likely to prevail under the CUTSA claim. The Court GRANTED Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction with respect to the trade secret claims, ordering Defendant to cease using Plaintiff's lists.

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