One of the first elements that a plaintiff must prove to succeed on a trade secret claim is that it is the owner of a valid trade secret. To do so, the law generally imposes a burden on plaintiffs to identify its trade secrets with sufficient particularity in order to succeed. As the Ninth Circuit recently recognized, this burden allows courts and litigants to navigate “the line between the protection of unique, innovative technologies and vigorous competition.” In InteliClear, LLC v. ETC Global Holdings, Inc. (decided October 15, 2020), the Ninth Circuit addressed the issue of whether a plaintiff had satisfied the “sufficient particularity” burden and whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to a defendant when its motion was filed after just one day of discovery.
In the early 2000s, InteliClear created an electronic system for managing various stock broker and securities services called “InteliClear Systems,” which used a structured query language relational database to process millions of trades a day. In 2008, ETC Global Holdings (through its predecessor and later a subsidiary) licensed the InteliClear System and signed a Software License Agreement. Within the terms of that agreement was an acknowledgment that the InteliClear information that was being provided “was confidential, proprietary and copyrighted” and that ETC agreed to maintain that confidentiality.
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