The State Bar of Texas recently published the 2016 edition of the Texas Pattern Jury Charges, which includes for the first time jury instructions and questions for misappropriation of trade secrets cases. Texas Pattern Jury Charges is a series of books published by the State Bar of Texas to assist the bench and bar in preparing the court’s charge in jury trials. The pattern charges are suggestions and guides for providing definitions, instructions, and questions to a jury in a variety of cases under Texas law. Each year, the Committee on Texas Pattern Jury Charges surveys Texas law to prepare jury charges on new subjects for publication in the Texas Pattern Jury Charges.
In 2013, during the 83rd Legislature, members of the Trade Secrets Committee of the Intellectual Property Section and the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Texas formed a working group to participate in the review of the proposed bill and the bill analysis for what is now known as the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA), Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 134A.001, et seq. (2013). The bill was enacted on May 2, 2013 and became the governing law for misappropriation of trade secrets cases in Texas on September 1, 2013.
After TUTSA’s enactment, the Trade Secrets Committee and the Committee on Pattern Jury Charges spent two years considering and discussing the draft pattern charge for claims under TUTSA. The combined work of these two committees culminated in the pattern jury charge (PJC) for trade-secret misappropriation published for the first time in the 2016 edition of the Texas Pattern Jury Charges for Business, Consumer, Insurance, and Employment.
Over the last two years, Heath Coffman and Joe Cleveland of Brackett & Ellis have served on the Trade Secrets Committee and worked on the pattern jury charge for misappropriation of trade secrets. In the preface to the 2016 edition to the Texas Pattern Jury Charges, it is noted that:
The Committee is also indebted to the Trade Secrets Committee of the Intellectual Property Section of the State Bar of Texas. Under the leadership of Joseph F. Cleveland, Jr., the Trade Secrets Committee reviewed and provided significant feedback on the Committee’s jury charges on misappropriation of trade secrets. The Trade Secrets Committee’s input was invaluable and helped to insure the accuracy of those questions and instructions.