AK Steel Corp. v. Donald Earley

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets
  • Date Filed: 08-19-2011
  • Case #: 1:10-00415-KD-C
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama; Before: Dubose
  • Full Text Opinion

When a plaintiff makes a claim of trade secret infringement they must specifically identify what the trade secret information is; conclusory statements about trade secret infringement will be put aside by the court.

For full opinion:
2011 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 93020
2011 WL 3654491

Opinion (Dubose): Donald Earley (“Earley”) was the Senior Process Engineer of AK Steel Corp. (“AKSC”) until he resigned in June 2009 and took employment with a competitor of AKSC. While Earley was employed with AKSC he signed a confidential non-disclosure agreement. Before Earley left he sent himself emails containing vendor information and other information from his employment with AKSC. When AKSC discovered this it filed suit against Earley in Ohio for trade secret infringement. Ohio’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act specifies that “the entity claiming trade secret status bears the burden of identifying” that the “material at issue” is protected by statute 1333.61(D). AKSC claimed that the emails contained trade secret information and was sufficient to give its competitor am advantage in the marketplace. However AKSC did specify any specific information that was a trade secret. As a result the court put aside AKSC’s conclusory statements and found that AKSC had not met the burden of proof necessary for a trade secret infringement suit. Judgment was GRANTED for Earley.

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