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Ultimately, whether a plaintiff has sufficiently disclosed its trade secrets is a fact-specific question to be decided on a case-by-case basis. "Reasonable particularity" is defined as: 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.
Plaintiff Vesta, an electronic payments and fraud prevention technology company, sued Defendants Amdocs Management Limited and Amdocs, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants"), telephone billing software and services companies, for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. Beginning in 2006, the parties collaborated with one another to integrate their services and platforms in order to appeal to their shared customer based. In 2009, the parties' relationship became more strategic in nature as they worked to jointly market their respective services. In addition, since 2010, Defendants twice approached Vesta about the possibility of Defendants acquiring Vesta. Vesta and Defendants entered into a series of Non-Disclosure/Confidentiality Agreements (NDAs) to preserve confidentiality while sharing information in their effort to develop joint services and products. Now, Vesta alleges that Defendants breached these NDAs and stole trade secrets that were shared in the course of the collaboration. Specifically, Vesta alleged that in the course of jointly collaborating on marketing and the possibility of acquisition of Vesta by Defendants, Vesta shared information with Defendants including proprietary information about Vesta’s payment solution and "confidential and proprietary business and financial information." Vesta alleged that Defendants obtained two types of confidential information from Vesta.
Did Vesta identify its trade secrets with sufficient particularity for Defendants to be obligated to respond to Vesta’s discovery requests?
The court held that in this breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets action, Vesta was required to identify the trade secrets it claimed defendants misappropriated with reasonable particularity before defendants were required to produce their confidential information and trade secrets to plaintiff in discovery. However, Vesta’s responses were too general and generic to satisfy the reasonable particularity standard as Vesta’s disclosures did not specify any trade secrets, but rather revealed the end results of, or functions performed by, the claimed trade secrets.