City of Miami Beach faces trade secrets complaint from builders

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Trade Secret Illustration (photo :Naghiyev / Shutterstock.com)

Trade Secret Illustration (photo :Naghiyev / Shutterstock.com)

Acaciapat.com – A Virginia-based building company has filed a lawsuit under the US’s new trade secrets law accusing the City of Miami Beach of improperly passing on confidential information to an electricians’ union.

In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, MC Dean said information about staff salaries, hours worked and qualifications were passed on to the City of Miami Beach and the Local 349 union.

The complaint, filed on Monday, May 16, is one of the first under the newly introduced Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which was signed into law last week.

MC Dean is a subcontractor of Clark Construction Group, the general contractor for the Miami Beach Convention Center renovation project.

As part of its contractual obligations, MC Dean provides Clark with information about its employees but did not provide the information to the City of Miami Beach.

Local 349 requested copies of some of MC Dean’s payrolls from the city in March this year.

MC Dean objected to the disclosure of the payrolls and said the records constituted trade secrets and could not be disclosed under Florida law.

But, according to the lawsuit, “on or about the afternoon of March 21”, a city clerk improperly and “inadvertently” disclosed unredacted copies of the payrolls to Local 349.

The complaint alleges violation of both the DTSA and Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The DTSA gives victims of trade secrets theft the power to sue in a federal court for the first time, bringing trade secrets laws into line with other forms of intellectual property.

MC Dean is seeking injunctive relief and damages.

Jane Schlicht, partner at law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson, said the defendants may move to dismiss the DTSA claim on the grounds that the alleged misappropriation occurred in March 2016, “before the act became effective”.

She added: “Conspicuously absent from the allegations in the complaint is the existence of a confidentiality agreement. If there is no confidentiality agreement or confidentiality terms in the subcontractor agreement, defendants may challenge whether the plaintiff took reasonable steps to protect the secrecy of the information and seek dismissal of both the DTSA claim and the Florida state claim.”

Source : World IP Review