Although they obtained a patent for their invention from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it was never used as an automobile wheel balancer. Some time later, Exetron Corp. produced an automobile wheel balancer that used a hard-bearing device with a support plate similar to that of the Doneys’ device. Given that the Doneys had not used their device for automobile wheel balancing, does Exetron’s use of a similar device infringe on the Doneys’ patent? Why or why not? (See page 162.)
8–3. Trade Secrets. Briefing.com offers Internet-based analyses of investment opportunities to investors. Richard Green is the company’s president. One of Briefing.com’s competitors is StreetAccount, LLC (lim- ited liability company), whose owners include Gregory Jones and Cynthia Dietzmann. Jones worked for Briefing. com for six years until he quit in March 2003 and was a member of its board of directors until April 2003. Dietzmann worked for Briefing.com for seven years until she quit in March 2003. As Briefing.com employ- ees, Jones and Dietzmann had access to confidential business data. For instance, Dietzmann developed a list of contacts through which Briefing.com obtained mar- ket information to display online. When Dietzmann quit, she did not return all of the contact information to the company. Briefing.com and Green filed a suit in a federal district court against Jones, Dietzmann, and StreetAccount, alleging that they had appropriated these data and other “trade secrets” to form a competing busi- ness. What are trade secrets? Why are they protected? Under what circumstances is a party liable at common law for their appropriation? How should these principles apply in this case? [Briefing.com v. Jones, 2006 WY 16, 126 P.3d 928 (2006)] (See page 169.)
8–4. Licensing. Redwin Wilchcombe composed, per- formed, and recorded a song called Tha Weedman at the request of Lil Jon, a member of Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz (LJESB), for LJESB’s album Kings of Crunk. Wilchcombe was not paid, but was given credit on the album as a producer. After the album had sold 2 million copies, Wilchcombe filed a suit against LJESB, alleging copyright infringe- ment. The defendants claimed that they had a license to use the song. Do the facts support this claim? Explain. [Wilchcombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949 (11th Cir. 2009)] (See page 161.)
8–5. BUSINESS CASE PROBLEM
WITH SAMPLE ANSWER: Trade Secrets.
Jesse Edwards, an employee of Carbon Processing and Reclamation, LLC (CPR), put unmarked boxes of company records in his car. Edwards’s wife, Channon, who suspected him of hiding financial
information from her, gained access to the documents. William Jones, the owner of CPR, filed a suit, contending that Chan- non’s unauthorized access to the files was a theft of trade se- crets. Could the information in the documents be trade secrets? Should liability be imposed? Why or why not? [Jones v. Ham- ilton, 53 So.3d 134 (Ala.Civ.App. 2010)] (See page 169.)