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Woodfords Family Servs. v. Casey

United States District Court for the District of Maine

December 14, 2011, Decided; December 14, 2011, Filed

NO. 2:11-CV-445-DBH



Woodfords Family Services, Inc. ("Woodfords") has filed a five-count Complaint in this federal court. Count I seeks declaratory judgment on a federal claim for copyright ownership. The other Counts seek declaratory and injunctive relief on four state law claims, namely, misappropriation of trade secrets, 10 M.R.S.A. § 1541 et seq., misappropriation of an idea, breach of fiduciary duty or confidential relationship, and unjust enrichment. Along with the Complaint, Woodfords filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction based upon only the state law claims. During a conference with the Magistrate Judge, the  [*91]  parties agreed that I should decide that motion on the papers (which include affidavits) without a hearing or oral argument. I do so now.

The preliminary record establishes  [**2] that Woodfords is seeking injunctive relief only for protection of an idea. Woodfords has not established a likelihood of success on its claim that it has a trade secret, that the defendants have been unjustly enriched, or that they breached any duty of loyalty or confidential relations. Maine law does not yet recognize the claim of misappropriation of an idea. As a result, I Deny the motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

Facts and Procedural History

Woodfords, a Maine nonprofit organization, furnishes community-based family support and educational services to people with special needs. Aff. of Dr. Paul Nau ¶ 2. Woodfords' services include early childhood programs. Id. These provide young children with developmentally appropriate experiences and activities that address cognition, speech and language development, gross and fine motor skills, and social and emotional behavioral development. Id.

Woodfords hired the defendant Laura Casey as Program Director for its early childhood services program in 2007. Aff. of Laura Casey ¶ 2; Nau Aff. ¶ 7. Previously Casey had worked and published in the special education field. Casey Aff. ¶ 14. Beginning in 2010, at Casey's  [**3] urging, Woodfords took certain steps to develop a video self-modeling product for children with special needs such as autism. Casey Aff. ¶¶ 18-19; de Bree Aff. ¶ 4. On September 1, 2011, Casey resigned her employment. Casey Aff. ¶ 3; Nau Aff. ¶ 41. The record contains no reference to a noncompete agreement. Now Casey intends to launch a website under the auspices of Look at Me Now, LLC, the other defendant in this lawsuit, a limited liability company owned by Casey and her father, John Fitzgerald. Casey Aff. ¶¶ 6-7; Fitzgerald Aff. ¶ 3. The website will market various video self-modeling products that families can purchase and use over the internet. Look at Me Now Webpages (Docket Item 3-17).

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832 F. Supp. 2d 88 *; 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143761 **; 2011 WL 6218101



video, self-modeling, confidential, secrecy, trade secret, likelihood of success, special needs, temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, misappropriation, unjust enrichment, hired, confidential relationship, parties, merits, irreparable harm, no evidence, ownership, steps, circumstances, cases, Copyright Act, infringement, Technology, employees, state law claim, fiduciary duty, registration, disclosure, injunctive

Copyright Law, Scope of Copyright Protection, Ownership Interests, Initial Ownership, Works Made for Hire, Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, General Overview, Ownership Rights, Reproductions, Adaptations, Preparation of Derivative Works, Distribution, Civil Infringement Actions, Elements, Registration Requirement, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Remedies, Preliminary & Temporary Injunctions, Trade Secrets Law, Trade Secret Determination Factors, Definition Under Uniform Act, Economic Value, Protection of Secrecy, Reasonable Measures, Business & Corporate Compliance, Trade Secrets Law, Duty to Safeguard, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Business & Corporate Law, Duties & Liabilities, Care, Good Faith & Reasonable Skill, Duty of Good Faith, Agency Relationships, Termination, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Quasi Contracts, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Irreparable Harm