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Valco Cincinnati, Inc. v. N & D Machining Serv., Inc. - 24 Ohio St. 3d 41, 492 N.E.2d 814 (1986)

Rule:

The question of whether a particular knowledge or process is a trade secret is a question of fact to be determined by the trier of fact upon the greater weight of the evidence. A reviewing court should not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court on these factual issues.

Facts:

Valco Cincinnati, Inc. (Valco), appellee, brought an action against N & D Machining Service, Inc. (d.b.a. Superior Adhesive Equipment Co.), and James E. Draginoff, appellants, alleging a wrongful appropriation of trade secrets and seeking an order that appellants be preliminarily and permanently enjoined from disclosing and using those trade secrets, which in effect would prevent appellants from manufacturing certain replacement parts for Valco's products. During his employment with appellee, Draginoff became exposed to appellee's trade secrets in the commercial glue application field. When he started his own machine shop on the side, appellee supplied them with confidential drawings and specifications of its equipment so that appellants could make parts for appellee's machines. Appellee discovered, however, that appellants were manufacturing glue application parts for a competitor at reduced prices. At the conclusion of a trial to the court, the judge issued a permanent injunction as prayed for by Valco. The trial court found that Valco's techniques and processes constituted protected trade secrets, that the appellants had not engineered and produced the questioned products independent of the acquired trade secret information, and that Valco had reasonably provided for measures to maintain security for its trade secrets. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Appellants challenged the decision of the lower court.

Issue:

Was there sufficient evidence to justify the order permanently enjoining appellants from manufacturing replacement parts for appellee manufacturer's machines?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court because the trial court had sufficient evidence to support its findings that appellee's plans, materials, designs, processes, and customer and pricing lists were all protected trade secrets, and because the circumstances were sufficiently egregious to warrant a permanent injunction.

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