Orca Communs. Unlimited, LLC v. Noder

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets
  • Date Filed: 11-19-2014
  • Case #: CV-13-0351-PR
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Supreme Court of Arizona
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2014 Ariz. LEXIS 205
  • Westlaw Citation: 2014 WL 6462438
  • Full Text Opinion

The Arizona Uniform Trade Secrets Act does not displace common-law tort claims based on alleged misuse of confidential information and protects protections and remedies for trade secret claims.

Opinion (Pelander): Orca Communications Unlimited, LLC (“Orca”) is a public relations company in Arizona. Ann Noder (“Noder”) was president of Orca from 2002 until she resigned in May 2009. Noder started her own firm and allegedly urged some of Orca’s customers to do business with her new company instead of Orca. Orca sued Noder for unfair competition by alleging she "learned confidential and trade secret information about Orca," intending to "steal and exploit" the information. The lower court dismissed Orca’s complaint because it determined that Arizona's Uniform Trade Secrets Act ("AUTSA") displaced any common law tort claims stemming from alleged misuse of confidential information. The AUTSA has a displacement provision providing that it “displaces conflicting tort, restitutionary and other laws of this state providing civil remedies for misappropriation of a trade secret.” This Court found that the lower court erred in dismissing the claim based on the AUTSA because that Act does not displace claims based on misappropriations of a trade secret. Additionally, the AUTSA has remedies and protections that are not generally available under the common law to protect trade secrets.

In conclusion, the Court REVERSES and REMANDS holding that the AUTSA does not displace common-law tort claims based on alleged misuse of confidential information.

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