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Choosing Advocacy over Candor Renders Patent Unenforceable

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the district court’s finding that the patents-in-suit were unenforceable due to inequitable conduct because of a failure to disclose information related to an offer for sale of the claimed invention made more than one year prior to the critical date. GS Cleantech Corp v Adkins Energy LLC, Case Nos. 16-2231, 17-1838; GS Cleantech Corp. et al. v. Big River Resources Galva, LLC et al., Case No. 17-1832 (Fed Cir. March 2, 2020) (Wallach, J.) David Cantrell founded Vortex Dehydration Technology (VDT) in 2002 with the purpose of selling products and methods for processing factory waste for resale. David Winsness joined as CTO in 2002. Around this time, VDT began a business relationship with Agri-Energy, a company that operated a dry-mill ethanol plant. Starting sometime before June 2003, Mr. Cantrell shifted his focus from meat and fish byproduct processing to the creation of an ethanol oil recovery system. In...

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Texas Appeals Court Rules Private Communications with Customers Not Protected Free Speech

In a case addressing the applicability of free speech as a defense to trade secret misappropriation, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas retracted its previous ruling, holding that communications with customers and suppliers did not involve a matter of public concern and were therefore not an exercise of free speech. Goldberg, et al. v. EMR (USA Holdings) Inc., et al., Case No. 05-18-00261-CV (Tex. App. Jan. 23, 2020) (Myers, J). The case concerns allegations of trade secret misappropriation brought by EMR (USA Holdings) (EMR), against Kenneth Goldberg, his company Geomet Recycling (Geomet), and several Geomet employees who, like Goldberg, formerly worked for EMR. EMR and Geomet are both involved in the business of scrap metal recycling. EMR alleged that Goldberg, Geomet and the former EMR employees (collectively, “Defendants”) violated the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA), breached fiduciary duties and tortuously interfered with...

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