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Opal Labs, Inc. v. Sprinklr, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

December 4, 2019

OPAL LABS, INC., an Oregon Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
SPRINKLR, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.

          Adam M. Starr Chad M. Colton Renee E. Rothauge Stanton R. Gallegos Markowitz Herbold, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Robert Lane Carey Christopher J. Pallanch Megan K. Houlihan Michael C. Willes Tonkon Torp, LLP Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Opal Labs, Inc. filed this action for fraud, breach of contract, violation of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and other claims. Defendant moves to compel Plaintiff to supplement its answer to Interrogatory No. 4 to provide a more definite statement of its claimed trade secrets. The Court denies Defendant's motion to compel.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a software developer that “provides content creation, marketing and planning software, and services to large companies” across the country. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF 61. Plaintiff's software helps companies create and plan marketing campaigns. Id. Defendant is a large software developer whose software platform allows large companies to publish and analyze marketing materials on social media sites. Id. at ¶ 9. Because the features of the two developers' software platforms were complementary, Plaintiff and Defendant teamed up to explore the feasibility of integrating the features of their software to serve a mutual client. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. During the parties' joint effort, the parties entered into a mutual non-disclosure agreement, a teaming agreement, and terms of use agreements. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 22, 34. While collaborating to serve their mutual client, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant gained unauthorized access to Plaintiff's proprietary information and confidential trade secrets. Id. at ¶ 21-22. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant used Plaintiff's proprietary information and trade secrets to create a content marketing and planning module similar to Plaintiff's product, which Defendant integrated into its own software and sold to the parties' mutual client. Id. at ¶¶ 39-40. As a result, the parties' mutual client terminated its business relationship with Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 44.

         In discovery, Defendant served an interrogatory that asked Plaintiff to describe each trade secret that it alleges Defendant misappropriated, “including the critical elements of each trade secret . . . documents that describe or embody each trade secret, and . . . the Persons most knowledgeable concerning the nature and development of each trade secret.” Def. Mot. Compel 3, ECF 82. Plaintiff served a response, supplemented its response, and served an amended supplemental response to the interrogatory. Defendant claims that Plaintiff has failed to describe its alleged trade secrets with reasonable particularity and seeks an order compelling Plaintiff to further supplement its answer to Interrogatory No. 4.

         STANDARDS

         The scope of discovery extends to “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). A party may serve an interrogatory relating to “any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2). The Court may issue an order compelling a party to answer an interrogatory if that party refuses to answer or fails to provide a complete answer. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)-(4).

         In a trade secret case, the plaintiff must “identify the trade secrets and carry the burden of showing that they exist.” Imax Corp. v. Cinema Techs., Inc., 152 F.3d 1161, 1164 (9th Cir. 1998). The plaintiff must “identify its alleged trade secrets with reasonable particularity.” Vesta Corp. v. Amdocs Mgmt. Ltd., 147 F.Supp.3d 1147, 1156 (D. Or. 2015) (“Vesta I”). Reasonable particularity is “a description of the trade secrets at issue that is sufficient to (a) put a defendant on notice of the nature of the plaintiff's claims and (b) enable the defendant to determine the relevancy of any requested discovery concerning its trade secrets.” Vesta I, 147 F.Supp.3d at 1155 (quoting BioD, LLC v. Amnio Tech., LLC, No. 2:13-cv-1670-HRH, 2014 WL 3864658, at *5 (D. Ariz. Aug. 6, 2014)). A plaintiff does not have to prove their trade secret claim prior to conducting discovery, but it “must provide enough detail about [its] alleged trade secrets to at least suggest that the alleged trade secrets might be legally protectable.” Id. at 1156. It is not enough for a party to describe its alleged trade secrets by generic category or to describe merely “the end results of, or functions performed by, the claimed trade secrets.” Id. Whether a party has described its claimed trade secrets with sufficient particularity is a fact-intensive inquiry that the Court must assess on a case-by-case basis. Id. at 1155.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant's Interrogatory No. 4 stated:

Describe in detail each trade secret you allege was misappropriated by Sprinklr and/or Mr. Herman, including but not limited to by describing the critical elements of each trade secret, by identifying documents that describe or embody each trade secret, and by identifying the Persons most knowledgeable concerning the nature and development of each trade secret.

Def. Mot. Compel 3. Plaintiff's supplemental response to the interrogatory identified ten alleged trade secrets. Def. Mot. Compel 12-19. Plaintiff's amended supplemental response, the specificity of which the parties dispute in this motion, identified additional trade secrets. Def. Mot. Compel 20-30. In response to the Court's request, Plaintiff provided an exhibit that contained additional details about the structure, functions, and capabilities that it claims are trade secrets and cited the transcripts of the depositions of David Gorman, Plaintiff's co-founder and Vice President of Product, in which Mr. Gorman testified in his personal and representative capacity under Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6) about Plaintiff's ...


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