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Friday, September 20, 2013

Beirne, Maynard & Parsons Secures Big Win in Texas Trade Secrets Case

HOUSTON, Sept. 19, 2013 – Yesterday the Texas’ Fourth Court of Appeals at San Antonio affirmed a $4.9M verdict that Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, LLP, won for Vaquillas Energy Lopeno, Ltd. and JOB Energy Partners II, Ltd. of Laredo in Vaquillas Energy Lopeno, Ltd. v. Thomas A. Lamont, No. 04-12-00219-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, September 18, 2013).  Jeff Parsons and Joe Cohen, both partners with the firm and veteran litigators, tried the case, defending the trial court’s verdict on appeal.

“The appeals court’s decision has significance not only for intellectual property law but for the state’s oil and gas industry, protecting trade secrets and the rights of parties who contract for the generation of oil and gas prospects,” said Parsons.

Plaintiffs had developed a trade secret seismic map, but did not have written confidentiality agreements with its officers or employees. The jury in the lower court found that the defendants conspired to misappropriate the map, used it to lease adjacent acreage, and then drilled offset wells to produce gas from the reservoir depicted in the proprietary map.

The Court of Appeals recognized that officers, directors and employees have fiduciary duties that prevent them from taking or using company information after resigning.

Plaintiff had disclosed the map to other potential investors.  Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals adopted the Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition’s position that merely showing the protected item to prospective buyers, customers, or licensees does not destroy trade secret status.

According to Cohen, “The case also recognizes that one can be liable for misappropriation of a trade secret when the trade secret is obtained for one purpose but used for another.”

Texas recently adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.  The Vaquillas case involved conduct alleged to have occurred prior to the Act’s adoption.  Nevertheless, the Vaquillas opinion will continue to complement the Act’s recognition that one can misappropriate a trade secret by using improper means, and that trade secrets enforcement requires merely substantial secrecy, not absolute secrecy.

For More Information, Contact:
Carlos Arcos Jaffe PR (713) 826-5195
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About Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, L.L.P.

Beirne, Maynard & Parsons represents clients, including Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, in trials, appeals, arbitrations and other proceedings throughout Texas, the nation and the world. For over 25 years, the firm has provided the highest level of service to every client it represents. Beirne, Maynard & Parsons focuses on the needs of corporate clients who know the value of extensive experience, solid case preparation, and insightful strategic planning. Their attorneys have a history of providing exceptional results for clients with the highest expectations.


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