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Quaiz v. Rockler Retail Group, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 9, 2019

MAJED QUAIZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCKLER COMPANIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          Brian D. Chenoweth, Brooks M. Foster, and Andrea R. Meyer, Chenoweth Law Group PC, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Klaus H. Hamm, Klarquist Sparkman LLp, John M. Weyrauch, Peter R. Forrest, and Paul P. Kempf, Dicke, Billig & Czaja PLLC, Of Attorneys for Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL H. SIMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Majed Quaiz (“Quaiz”) asserts three claims against Defendants Rockler Companies, Inc. (“Rockler”) and Rockler Retail Group, Inc.: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets in violation of Or. Rev. Stat. (“ORS”) § 646.461, et. Seq.; (2) unjust enrichment; and (3) breach of contract. After Defendants moved for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of Defendant Rockler Retail Group, Inc. In addition, in his response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff concedes that his claim for unjust enrichment should be dismissed. For the following reasons, the Court denies Rockler's motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff's claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.

         BACKGROUND

         In November 2011, Quaiz began developing a concept and design for a right-angle corner clamp (the “Clamp”) to market and sell for home and commercial uses. Quaiz alleges that his design for the Clamp included the following features: “a one-handed operation that did not require additional tools to utilize it, precise fastening, ability to accommodate a wide size range of projects, and easy use.” Between June 2012 and July 2012, Quaiz began looking for manufacturers to produce his Clamp design.

         Rockler is a woodworking and hardware supply business. Through its website, Rockler offered to “work directly with the inventor to develop their ideas” by allowing inventors to submit ideas for product development. Rockler's website instructed anyone who wishes to submit an idea to use an online form and “[e]nter a detailed description of your product or idea, and make sure to include its purpose and/or function, and tell us how it works.” The website also stated: “By submitting your idea to this website, Rockler agrees to use it only for evaluation. If we determine it is something we would like to develop, we will proceed with a Mutual Non Disclosure Agreement so we can discuss your idea more thoroughly, with protection for both parties.” Rockler's website also explained: “We do not steal ideas, and we are willing [to] pay inventors for partnering with Rockler.”

         On July 12, 2012, Quaiz sent Rockler an email through Rockler's website, stating:

I've designed a corner clamp that offers more precise fastening and the ability to handle larger material. Its features allow a wide range of adjustability to accommodate all sorts of projects, from picture frames to construction with 2x4's, and it's only fractions of an inch larger than the bigger clamp-it clamp. I believe that my clamp is easier to use because it frees the user from holding multiple parts at once. Even with all its features and capability, it's still a very simple clamp to use and possibly manufacture. The clamps [sic] design is finalized to my satisfaction and I can provide 14 different drawings, including 3d views.

         Later that day, Rockler responded to Quaiz by email, stating: “If you have any images of your idea that you would like to provide, please reply to this email with the images attached.” The next day, July 13, 2012, Quaiz replied to Rockler's email by attaching fourteen drawings of the Clamp. Quaiz's July 12th email submission and July 13th sending of images were the only communications that Quaiz made to Rockler concerning the Clamp.

         When inventors or customers submit tool design ideas to Rockler through its online submission portal, they are evaluated by Rockler's new product development (“NPD”) group. In 2012, Dan Wenning, Steve Krohmer, and Brian Kramer were part of Rockler's NPD group, which met on a biweekly or monthly basis. The NPD group placed new submissions on a screen for viewing and also handed out printed copies. On August 8, 2012, Rockler notified Quaiz that Rockler was not interested in the Clamp.

         Three years later, in 2015, Rockler introduced its “Rockler Clamp-It Corner Clamping Jig” (the “Jig”). After Quaiz reviewed the Jig, he concluded that Rockler had misappropriated Quaiz's concept and design of the Clamp in developing the Jig. In 2016, Quaiz commenced this lawsuit.

         STANDARDS

         A party is entitled to summary judgment if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257 (9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is] insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “Where ...


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