News

The Corpus Christi Court Issues Opinion on the Specificity of Injunctive Orders in Trade Secrets Cases

Article by Heath Coffman

The Corpus Christi Court Issues Opinion on the Specificity of Injunctive Orders in Trade Secrets Cases | The Fort Worth Business & Employment Law Reporter

Almost every trade secrets case involves some sort of request for injunctive relief prohibiting the alleged infringer from using the trade secrets at issue.  If the court grants the request for injunctive relief and you are the party accused of misappropriating the trade secret, you want to have some specificity in the court’s order so you can know the specific trade secrets you a prohibiting from using.

Often, though, you don’t get that specificity.  Instead, Texas courts will uphold an order with only “specific examples of the items” compromising trade secrets–and not the specific trade secrets themselves–so long as the party can determine what the specific trade secrets are from the “context of the suit.”  That was the case in Super Starr International v. Fresh Texas Produce, LLC, No. 13-18-00233-CV, 2019 WL 2385564 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi June 6, 2019, no pet.), where the Court upheld a temporary injunction order that defined “confidential information” as “membership agreements, membership lists, intellectual property, finances, methods of operation and competition, pricing, marketing plan and strategies, equipment and operational requirements, and information concerning personnel, clients, customers, independent contractors, suppliers and growers of [the LLC].”  According the Court, the list of examples, when read in the context of the lawsuit, was specific enough to meet the requirements of a temporary injunction order under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 683.

The reminder here is that a defendant in a trade secret case often won’t get the benefit of a specific identification of the trade secret in the injunction order.  Instead, the defendant will have to determine the enjoined trade secrets from the “context of the suit.”

(The current Super Starr International opinion is the third interlocutory appeal in the case.  A previous opinion discussed the impact of the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act on breach of fiduciary duty claims.)