Willamette Law Online

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Formfactor, Inc. v. Micro Probe, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-07-2012
Case #: C 10 3095 PJH
Hamilton
Full Text Opinion: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11435732581946187591&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

Trade Secrets: A trade secret does not exist upon failure to describe the "subject matter of the trade secret with sufficient particularity to separate it from matters of general knowledge in the trade or of special knowledge."

Opinion (Hamilton): Formfactor, Inc.(Form) and Micro Probe, Inc.(Micro) are both computer software companies that design, manufacture, sell, and support high-performance “advanced wafer probe card assemblies.” David Browne started working for Form in 2000, during which time he would work from home using both company and personal computers. Form never asked Browne to sign a confidentiality agreement. In 2010, Browne left employment with Form and started working for Micro. Shortly after commencing work with Micro, Form’s counsel sent Browne a letter, inquiring about the Form files that Browne had at home — Browne subsequently attempted to delete any files he had at home. Computer forensics later recovered the files. In order to prove the existence of a trade secret, Form provided a list of trade secrets in a spreadsheet, which included around 4,500 files; however, neither the files nor any witnesses could describe the “subject matter of the trade secret with sufficient particularity to separate it from matters of general knowledge in the trade or of special knowledge.” Furthermore, Form was unable to prove that the alleged trade secrets had independent economic value, or that they not been publicly disclosed. Therefore, the court GRANTED Micro’s motion for summary judgment.