Quinn emanuel trial lawyers

Trade Secret Litigation
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Introduction Print

Trade secrets litigation has always been a major part of the firm’s practice. We regularly represent companies as both plaintiffs and defendants. We have been retained in some of the most high profile trade secrets cases in the last three decades. We have represented companies of all sizes (from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 companies) and in a wide range of industries, including aerospace, biotech, internet, medical devices, mobile devices, pharmaceuticals, semiconductor, software, and telecommunications. Our representative trade secret clients include General Motors, Shell Oil, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Avery Dennison, Disney, Hughes, IBM, Mattel, Maxwell Technologies, easyJet Airlines, Trust Company of the West, Zynga, and many others.

Many of our engagements involve employee movement between competitors. It is a fact of corporate life that many competitors hire employees for what they know—whether proprietary or not. Because of the relative ease with which technology and information can be transferred, the risk of misappropriation of confidential information is a constant threat.

Time is often of the essence in trade secrets cases. Once the proprietary data is exchanged it is often too late. We can spring into action on a moment’s notice. We can produce high-quality legal work literally overnight—and obtain or block applications for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions.

No technology is too complex for our lawyers to understand. We can call upon the over 250 lawyers in our firm who have technical degrees in virtually all areas of science and engineering.

Sometimes trade secrets misappropriation cases have criminal aspects. If so, we can call upon our white collar specialists who are well versed with the law in this area.


  • Avery Dennison
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Brøderbund Software
  • Callidus Software
  • Corbis
  • Data East
  • Disney
  • Electronic Arts
  • Fox
  • FremantleMedia
  • Google
  • HBO
  • Hallmark
  • Home Depot
  • IBM
  • Intuit
  • INVISTA/Koch Industries
  • Mattel
  • Maxwell Technologies
  • Motorola
  • MTV
  • Multiply.com
  • Napster
  • National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
  • Paramount
  • Pennzoil/Quaker State
  • Phoenix American
  • Phoenix Technologies
  • Sae-A Trading Company Limited  2
  • SSA Global
  • Shoebuy.com
  • SolidWorks
  • Trust Company of the West 
  • Turner Entertainment 
  • Viacom 
  • Warner Home Video 
  • Zynga 

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Recent Representations  Print

  • uCar Technology (USA) Inc. and uCar Inc. v. Yan Li, Hua Zhong, Da Huo, and Zhenzhen Kou (N.D. Cal 2017). We represent four scientists, Yan Li, Hua Zhong, Da Huo, and Zhenzhen Kou, in a case brought by uCar Inc., the largest ride hailing service in China, and its US subsidiary uCar Technology (USA) Inc., alleging our clients breached their employment agreements, violated certain statutes and misappropriated trade secrets when they reformatted their computers before leaving to work for a competitor.  Without a hearing, opposition papers or even complete Rule 65 notice, the Northern District of California issued a temporary restraining order and order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue.  After receiving full briefing and argument from Quinn Emanuel, the court denied uCar’s preliminary injunction request, finding: Plaintiffs’ “contentions are too speculative and are not sufficiently supported by evidence to satisfy UCAR’s burden of establishing irreparable injury”; “UCAR does not provide any reason to doubt the accuracy or truthfulness of Defendants’ statements”; and “UCAR has offered no proof that there is an imminent threat of use or disclosure of its confidential information or trade secrets. In light of these shortcomings, UCAR has not demonstrated that irreparable harm is likely, rather than just possible.”
  • Virgin Galactic, LLC v. Thomas E. Markusic (AAA Arbitration 2016).  We represented Virgin Galactic, LLC in a AAA Arbitration against a former employee who started a competing small satellite rocket propulsion company using Virgin Galactic trade secret information and in violation of contractual and fiduciary duties owed to Virgin Galactic.  Using forensic evidence, we were able to establish that our adversary engaged in severe evidence spoliation and ultimately obtained an order for “terminating sanctions,” conclusively finding that the employee had, in fact, misappropriated Virgin Galactic’s trade secrets and violated his duties to Virgin Galactic.  
  • Ischemia Research and Education Foundation v. Pfizer Inc. (Santa Clara Superior Court 2016). Quinn Emanuel obtained a defense victory for Pfizer, Inc. in a California state court action alleging trade secret misappropriation.  At the initial trial in 2008, Plaintiff Ischemia Research and Education Foundation prevailed on all claims and obtained a judgment of almost $60 million.  The court ordered a retrial, and Quinn Emanuel entered the case.  In 2015, Quinn Emanuel defended Pfizer at the seven-week liability re-trial.  At the end of trial, the jury found only 7 of 159 alleged trade secrets were misappropriated by a third-party consultant who was working part-time for Pfizer.  In 2016, Quinn Emanuel defended Pfizer during the three-week damages trial.  With Pfizer facing exposure in excess of $100 million, the jury awarded only $165,000 in damages.
  • Zimmer Biomet v. Heraeus – Declaratory Proceedings (Frankfurt Appellate Court 2016). We represented one of the worldwide leading orthopedic companies in a dispute with its main competitor about the territorial scope of an injunction rendered by a German Appellate court. While the counterpart argued that the German injunction had worldwide effect the court confirmed our position that the injunction must be construed narrowly and did not extend beyond Germany.
  • In the Matter of Certain Opaque Polymers (ITC 2015).  We represented as complainants Dow Chemical and Rohm & Haas against Organik Kimya in an investigation related to opaque emulsion polymers.  We uncovered evidence of massive spoliation, and successfully obtained a default judgment on the trade secret claims.  The ITC issued a 25 year exclusion order and affirmed almost $2 million in monetary sanctions.   
  • Koninklijke Philips N.V. et al. v. Elec-Tech International Co., Ltd. et al. (N.D. Cal. 2015). We successfully obtained a dismissal of a high-stakes trade secret misappropriation claim brought in federal court by one of the world’s largest producers of light-emitting diodes and related products against Chinese competitor Elec-Tech International Co., Ltd. (ETI), several of its subsidiaries, and three of its officers.  Quinn Emanuel filed motions to dismiss arguing (i) that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over seven of the eleven defendants, (ii) that Plaintiffs’ claim of diversity jurisdiction was a sham and based on the fraudulent joinder of two of ETI’s U.S. based subsidiaries, and (iii) that eight of the ten causes of action, including  a federal question claim arising under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), failed to state valid claims.  After Plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew their claim for diversity jurisdiction in response to the motions to dismiss, Quinn Emanuel successfully argued that the federal court also lacked federal question jurisdiction, obtaining a dismissal of the CFAA claim with prejudice.  The Court further declined to retain supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims and dismissed the entire case without deciding the personal jurisdiction and remaining issues raised in the motions to dismiss.
  • Gotham City Online, LLC v. Art.com, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2014). We represented Art.com in a case brought by Gotham City Online LLC alleging various claims, including trade secret misappropriation.  We defeated plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order, successfully disqualified opposing counsel for using Art.com’s privileged documents to prepare Gotham’s case, and effectively shut down the dispute, which was subsequently dismissed.
  • Schroeder, Rendezvoo LLC and Skoop Media v. Pinterest, et al. (New York Supreme Court—Commercial Division 2014). We represented the social networking service Pinterest in a trade secret misappropriation action filed in New York Supreme Court by an alleged former business partner of Pinterest’s first investor. The suit alleged that the idea for the massively successful Pinterest website was originally developed by plaintiffs and later stolen from them by Pinterest’s first investor. Plaintiffs further alleged that the investor then gave the idea to the Pinterest founders who then used the ideas to develop the website www.pinterest.com. We moved to dismiss all of plaintiffs’ claims against Pinterest. After briefing, the court granted Pinterest’s motion to dismiss in its entirety and dismissed Pinterest from the case with prejudice.
  • AeroManagement, Inc. v. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co., Alexander Pimenov, Victor Olenin, and Luigi de Franceso (S.D.N.Y. 2013). We represented one of the largest Russian jet manufacturers, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, and three of its senior officers in a breach of contract, trade secret, copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation lawsuit filed by AeroManagement. Plaintiff claimed it provided interior design plans for the Sukhoi Super Jet, and that our client was going to commercially exploit those plans without paying for them. AeroManagement sought an expedited preliminary injunction to prevent our client from displaying its Jet at the 2013 Moscow Air Show, one of the biggest air shows in the world. After we cross examined the plaintiff’s CEO at the preliminary injunction hearing, the court denied the motion for preliminary injunction, allowing our client to display its Jet in the Moscow Air Show.
  • Wamco Inc. v. Oshino Lamps, Ltd. et al. (Orange County Superior Court 2013). We defeated an attempt to enjoin the fledgling U.S. distributor and subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturer and two independent contractors from selling manufacturer's premiere product in the United States on the basis of alleged trade secret misappropriation.
  • Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entertainment Inc., et al. (and consolidated actions). (9th Cir. 2013). On behalf of Mattel, Inc., we obtained a complete reversal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of a $172.5 million judgment entered against Mattel following a jury verdict on a trade-secrets misappropriation claim raised by toy company MGA Entertainment, Inc. The Ninth Circuit agreed with Mattel that MGA’s trade-secrets claim, which was raised as a “counterclaim-in-reply,” was procedurally barred because it was not a "compulsory" response to any claim Mattel had raised, and therefore “should not have reached this jury.” The Ninth Circuit therefore vacated the jury verdict and remanded the claim to the district court with instructions that it be dismissed.
  • Maxwell Technologies, Inc. v. Linda Zhong, an individual, Jacky Au, an individual, Harbin Jurong New Power Co, Ltd. (San Diego Superior Court 2012). We obtained a TRO, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction against our client’s former chief scientist who had been recruited by a Chinese company and offered $3.5 million and paid $500k to misappropriate our client’s trade secrets and confidential information (both in the U.S. and in China) to develop a product that competed head to head with our client Maxwell Technologies’ ultra capacitor products.
  • Trust Company of the West, et al. v. Jeffrey Gundlach, et al. (Los Angeles Super. Ct. 2010). We represented Trust Company of the West (“TCW”) in a lawsuit against its former portfolio manager Jeffrey Gundlach and his new company DoubleLine Capital. After a two month jury trial, we obtained a jury verdict finding in favor of TCW on its claim for theft of trade secrets and related claims.
  • IBM v. PSI (SDNY 2007-2008). We represented IBM Corp. in an intensely fought patent, antitrust, and trade secret action against PSI Corp., a spinoff of Amdahl, which had announced it would offer an emulator that would allow IBM’s proprietary mainframe computer architecture to be implemented on Itanium-based servers. During discovery, we learned that several Amdahl programmers who had previously had access to highly confidential IBM information under a strict NDA had taken that information with them to PSI and used it in source code they wrote. We amended IBM’s Complaint to add trade secret claims and outmaneuvered PSI’s lawyers in working through source code written both in IBM Assembler and Intel Itanium assembly language as well as C, defining the trade secrets, distinguishing them from information that was publicly known, and in taking the depositions of the key employees. The case settled very favorably shortly after PSI’s general counsel attended a deposition of one of the lead programmers and saw the damaging admissions that were obtained.
  • INVISTA S.à r.l., et al. v. Rhodia S.A. (Third Circuit Court of Appeals) On behalf of Koch Industries’ Invista subsidiaries, Quinn Emanuel enabled a Delaware state court trade secret action by Invista to proceed against French chemicals firm Rhodia despite Rhodia’s efforts to get the action dismissed or stayed in favor of a French arbitration proceeding. We obtained a federal district court’s denial of Rhodia’s motion to dismiss or stay the state court action and then obtained the Third Circuit’s dismissal of Rhodia’s appeal as moot, using the foreign arbitrator’s own ruling issued during the course of the appeal to show that Rhodia was not a proper party there.
  • Coty Inc. v. Harvey P. Alstodt; Bruce C. Kowalsky; Diversified Beauty Products (f/k/a MBA Beauty, Inc.); and Harvey P. Alstodt Associates, Inc. (N.Y. State Supreme Court 2010). We obtained a TRO against two former executives of client Coty, Inc., stopping them from violating their covenant not to compete by marketing a nail polish line which, “coincidentally,” consisted of many colors identical to Coty’s line.
  • Rudamac, Inc. v. Daniel Chambers, Thousand Oaks Printing & Specialties, Inc. and Consolidated Graphics, Inc. (Los Angeles Super. Ct. 2009). We represented Rudamac, Inc., a printing company, in a case it brought against a former employee and his new employer alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, breaches of fiduciary duty and interference with economic advantage. We were substituted in as counsel several months before trial. After a month-long trial, we won a jury verdict for $5.7 million in compensatory damages and over $8 million in punitive damages.
  • SPS Technologies v. Motorola (Fla. Cir. Ct. 2008). We were retained by Motorola for the retrial of a theft of trade secret action following a mistrial. The plaintiff sought to wage a classic "David versus Goliath" battle, claiming that his small, defunct technology company was driven out of business by Motorola to facilitate the theft of its trade secrets valued at $10 billion. After aggressively challenging the claims in pretrial motion practice, the case favorably settled days before the retrial was to commence.
  • Think Partnership v. Nelson (D. Utah 2008). We represented various individuals accused by their employer of forming a competing company using the employer's trade secrets while working for the employer. We negotiated a favorable settlement for our clients.
  • Rent IT v. Home Depot (C.D. Cal. 2008). After the Ninth Circuit partially reversed a summary judgment, we represented Home Depot in a suit filed by a disgruntled software vendor alleging theft of trade secrets and breach of a non-disclosure agreement. We prevailed at trial, obtaining a complete defense verdict on all claims.
  • UniRam v. TSMC (N.D. Cal. 2007). One of our partners represented UniRAM in a trade secrets claim against TSMC (the world's largest independent chip foundry). After a jury trial, UniRAM obtained a $30.5 million verdict.
  • Bancorp v. Hartford (E.D. Mo. 2002). We earned a jury verdict of $118.3 million and a judgment of $134 million for a plaintiff financial products company in a misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of confidentiality agreement case against a major insurance company.
  • 3M v. Avery Dennison (D. Minn. 2002). After Avery hired three of its scientists, 3M filed suit and spent tens of millions trying to prove its trade secret misappropriation claims, seeking a nine-figure recovery. After we demonstrated that the claimed trade secrets were unprotectable, the case settled very favorably to Avery.
  • Broadcom v. Sarnoff (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2002). We obtained summary judgment in favor of our client, a General Electric/RCA spinoff, on trade secret misappropriation claims involving QAM modem technology. The judgment was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.
  • Avery Dennison v. Four Pillars (N.D. Ohio 2000). A Taiwanese competitor collaborated with an Avery Dennison employee to steal trade secrets. On behalf of Avery Dennison, we worked with the FBI and the Department of Justice to catch the thieves. A sting operation videotaped the competitor accepting trade secrets. The defendants were arrested that night, and served with a complaint and a temporary restraining order the next morning. A Cleveland jury ultimately awarded $80 million.
  • Litton v. Honeywell, 234 F.3d 358 (Fed. Cir. 2000). One of our partners represented Litton (now Northrop) in an action alleging Honeywell caused an ex-Litton employee to breach agreements obligating him to protect trade secrets. The jury awarded Litton $1.2 billion. The parties settled the case for $440 million in 2000.
  • 3M v. Avery Dennison (Orange County Super. Ct. 1999). We represented Avery Dennison when it hired a salesperson from 3M who, unbeknownst to Avery, brought 3M documents with him. Alleging trade secret misappropriation, 3M sued both Avery and the employee. Although the documents came to light when a 3M marshal raided the employee's house, we persuaded the jury that Avery had no knowledge of the employee's activities. After a 3-month jury trial, we obtained a complete defense verdict.
  • Lasergraphics, Inc. v. CalComp, Inc. (Orange County Super. Ct. 1999). We represented CalComp in a two-month trial involving multiple claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, fraud and breach of contract involving the computer protocol for high-speed color printers, obtaining a directed verdict on five of six of the claims at the close of the plaintiff's case.
  • Celeritis v. Rockwell and AT&T, 150 F.3d 1354 (Fed. Cir. 1998). Representing Celeritis in an action involving the misappropriation of trade secrets needed to enable the cellular transmission of data, one of our partners recovered a judgment of $65 million. The total recovery was over $70 million.
  • Litton v. Ssangyong, 109 F.3d 30 (Fed. Cir. 1997). On behalf of Litton (now Northrop), following judgment and remand on appeal, one of our partners negotiated a settlement involving an eight-figure payment and the defendant's withdrawal from the marketplace based on evidence that the defendant had misappropriated exported trade secrets needed to make the fine control radar for the F-16 fighter plane.
  • General Motors v. Lopez de Arriortua (E.D. Mich. 1997). We represented General Motors against Volkswagen and GM's former head of sourcing in Detroit for stealing secret GM documents. Working closely with inside lawyers from GM, we amassed devastating evidence and defeated all of Volkswagen's jurisdictional and substantive motions. On the eve of the Volkswagen chairman's deposition, we obtained a $1.1 billion settlement.
  • Coyle v. Atari (C.D. Cal. 1989). One of our partners represented Coyle in a trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement action involving the misappropriation of technology that was later patented. He obtained a seven-figure settlement.
  • Litton v. Sundstrand (C.D. Cal. 1988). In an action involving the trade secrets needed to make laser gyroscopes, one of our partners on the first day of trial obtained an eight-figure settlement on behalf of Litton and secured the defendant's withdrawal from the market place.

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