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API Ams., Inc. v. Miller

United States District Court for the District of Kansas

April 5, 2019, Decided; April 5, 2019, Filed

Case No. 2:17-cv-02617-HLT

Opinion

 [*1143]  MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff API Americas Inc. filed this action alleging that a former employee, Defendant Paul Miller, misappropriated its trade secrets in an attempt to lure away business to a direct competitor. Currently before the Court are the parties' dueling motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff seeks summary judgment on two counts—Count V for violation of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, 18 U.S.C. § 1836 ("DTSA"), and Count VI for violation of the Kansas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, K.S.A. §§ 60-3320, et seq. ("KUTSA")—and on its prayer for attorney's fees under these statutes. Doc. 47. Defendant, in turn, moves for summary judgment on all twelve claims asserted by Plaintiff in this action.1 Doc. 50.

The majority of the facts in this case are stipulated by the parties and, for the following reasons, the Court [**2]  finds those facts entitle Plaintiff to relief on its claims for liability under the DTSA and the KUTSA. However, the Court finds a genuine issue of fact exists regarding whether Defendant "willfully" and "maliciously" misappropriated Plaintiff's trade secrets and, accordingly, denies Plaintiff's request for summary judgment on its statutory fee claim. The Court further denies Defendant's competing motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND2

A. Defendant's Employment with Plaintiff

Plaintiff is a global designer, manufacturer, and distributor of "hot stamping foils" and other products. Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 2-3. Plaintiff's products are used across a variety of industries, although the greeting card and gift wrap industries traditionally comprise one of Plaintiff's largest customer bases. Id. at ¶¶ 3-4.

Defendant started working for Plaintiff in June 2007 as a Customer Service Representative and, at the time of his resignation in September 2017, held the position of Technical Service and Account Manager. Id. at ¶ 9. Although based at Plaintiff's facility in Lawrence, Kansas, Defendant  [*1144]  had VPN access to Plaintiff's network enabling him to work from home. Id. at ¶ 6; Doc. 48 at 11 ¶ 50; Doc. 57 at 11 [**3]  ¶ 50. In his role as a Technical Service and Account Manager, Defendant both provided technical knowledge of Plaintiff's products—by supplying information regarding how the foil is applied and assisting with quality control—and interfaced with Plaintiff's clients by managing outflow of trial samples, evaluating complaints and coordinating follow up, and assisting at trade shows. Doc. 46 at ¶ 9. Defendant therefore admits that, through his position with Plaintiff, he gained:

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380 F. Supp. 3d 1141 *; 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58976 **; 2019 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 122240; 2019 WL 1506955

API AMERICAS INC., Plaintiff, v. PAUL W. MILLER, Defendant.

Prior History: API Americas Inc. v. Miller, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183865 (D. Kan., Nov. 6, 2017)

CORE TERMS

trade secret, misappropriation, summary judgment, email, documents, customers, provisions, maliciously, damages, foils, breach of contract, reasons, injunctive relief, non-competition, argues, breach of contract claim, fair dealing, good faith, non-solicitation, resignation, willfully, parties, confidential information, monetary damages, disclosure, contends, denies, court finds, non-disclosure, attorney's fees