Trade Secret Litigation

Disputes involving trade secret and other confidential information require decisive action from an experienced team. At Robins Kaplan LLP, our record of successes representing plaintiffs and defendants in complex, high-exposure cases includes claims related to licensing, non-compete agreements, non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, employee defections, and industrial espionage. Our experience includes a detailed understanding of the often-nuanced differences between each state’s existing trade secret laws and the specific case strategies those differences require. We have litigated claims in state and federal courts across the country as well as in domestic and international alternative dispute forums. No matter the locale or venue, our trade secret attorneys know what it takes to protect clients’ proprietary information and processes through all stages of litigation, including rapid-response or accelerated timeline efforts like temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions.

We also help clients of all sizes build comprehensive protection plans and preempt and defend against allegations of trade secret misappropriation. We recognize the heightened importance of protecting the secrecy of innovation and the critical role effective trade secret representation plays in our clients’ continued success.


Our trade secret lawyers have experience implementing protection strategies and asserting and defending claims of confidential information, misappropriation, and misuse in a variety of venues and under multiple applicable laws. We also:

  • Survey and identify trade secret holdings and design programs to maintain requisite secrecy, including necessary physical-security measures
  • Counsel clients on industry-specific strategies for avoiding trade secret claims
  • Work with inventors, start-ups, and other innovators to minimize risks related to trade secrets claims
  • Develop and negotiate confidentiality agreements with employees, partners, suppliers, and customers for identifying and protecting clients’ confidential information

Clients and Industries

We assert and defend actions involving trade secret and other confidential information across multiple industries, including:

  • Consumer Electronics
  • Food and Beverage
  • Health Care
  • Hospitality
  • Health and Life Sciences 
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical Device
  • Office Equipment and Printers
  • Professional Services

Selected Case Results*

  • Adherent Laboratories, Inc. v. William Bunnelle and IFS Industries, Inc.No. 62-CV-16-531: Represented IFS Industries, Inc. and an individual employee in defense of trade secret and related claims in the State District Court of Minnesota, Ramsey County, involving the alleged misappropriation of hot melt adhesive formulations containing amorphous poly-alpha olefins and heterophasic metallocene-catalyzed polypropylene. Obtained early dismissal of a claim seeking to gain ownership of certain IFS Industries patents and patent applications based on plaintiff’s refusal to join an indispensable party. Obtained an order requiring plaintiff to identify its alleged trade secrets with specificity prior to discovery. Following discovery and motion practice, including a motion by plaintiff to withdraw its trade secret count, the case was resolved by settlement.

  • Represented a provider of banking and electronic payment software in an action against MasterCard alleging misappropriation of trade secrets. The case settled after expert discovery, with MasterCard agreeing to purchase a perpetual license.

  • Ecolab, Inc. v. FMC Corporation: (D. Minn. 2007): Represented Ecolab, Inc. in a patent and trade secret lawsuit before Chief Judge James M. Rosenbaum. We obtained a jury verdict of patent infringement, as well as a damages verdict that FMC misappropriated Ecolab’s trade secret protocol for online processing and sanitization of poultry carcasses.

  • Rotary Systems, Inc. v. TomoTherapy Inc., 2014 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1301 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 22, 2014), rev. denied (2015). Acting as appellate counsel, we obtained the reversal of summary judgment of a claim under the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act involving a rotary union that was used in radiation-therapy systems. The Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment that the Rotary Systems design was not a trade secret, finding that genuine issues of fact required a trial on whether Rotary Systems made reasonable efforts to preserve the secrecy of its designs.

  • Lead counsel for Carlson Hotels against a former employee in a dispute regarding trade secrets and ownership of intellectual property. The case settled favorably prior to trial.

  • Represented Weyerhaeuser against a former employee in a dispute regarding trade secrets and confidential information. The case settled favorably prior to trial.

  • Virtual Radiologic Corp. v. Tandem: Lead counsel for Virtual Radiologic Corporation and Nighthawk Radiology Services in an action for patent infringement, copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, and interference with contract in the District Court for the District of Arizona. We obtained injunctions in favor of our client on September 19, 2014, including a finding of patent infringement. The case involved our clients’ teleradiology technology and confidential business information. The action is civil action number 2:13-cv-01705.

  • Luigino's, Inc. v. Peterson Obtained summary judgment for Robert Peterson, the CEO of IBP, and the company, in the defense of a $500 million theft of trade secret, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract case.

  • SuperValu, Inc. v. Rainbow Foods: Represented SuperValu and Cub Foods against Fleming and Rainbow Foods in an action for theft of trade secrets under Minnesota law. On behalf of SuperValu and Cub, we alleged that Rainbow surreptitiously misappropriated Cub's confidential store specials before publication in local newspapers, and then used that ill-gained information to lure shoppers to its stores with lower advertised prices on the same special items. The case settled on a confidential basis.

  • LaserMaster v. Sentinel Business Systems: Represented LaserMaster, a manufacturer of large format inkjet printers in a trade secret case brought under Minnesota law. Retained just five weeks before trial, we won a jury verdict of $2.2 million, one of the largest trade secret verdicts ever awarded in Minnesota, where the case was tried. 

  • Boston Scientific v. ev3, Inc.: Defended ev3, Inc. in an action brought by Boston Scientific Corporation and Boston Scientific Scimed, Inc. for misappropriation of trade secrets under Minnesota law and infringement of patents related to medical devices known as embolic protection filters. Successfully defended allegations that several senior members of Boston Scientific management appropriated the subject trade secrets when they left Boston Scientific and went to ev3.  The claim for misappropriation of trade secrets was dismissed; the patent case was settled before trial on a confidential basis.

  • DiMassa v. Medtronic AVE: Trade secret litigation concerning the Bonneau stent that was the platform for the Medtronic AVE business.  The case settled during jury selection. 

  • SuperValu Inc. v. Bergmann; Unified Grocers, Inc. v. SuperValu Inc.:  Represented SuperValu in companion cases arising out of an employee’s breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets under both Minnesota and California law.  After consolidation of the two actions the case settled confidentially on terms favorable to our client.

  • CryoLife v. Medafor: Successfully alleged that the improper use of a compilation of the identity of and contact information for the client’s distribution network could constitute misappropriation of trade secrets under Georgia law. 

  • Carlson Marketing Group, Inc.  v. SME Associates: Represented Carlson in an action for theft of trade secrets under Minnesota law relating to Carlson's Olympic hospitality business for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. Obtained a temporary injunction and later a settlement including a permanent injunction.

  • Ecolab Inc. v. John H. Ford: Represented Ecolab in a commercial dispute involving the departure of six top salespeople who joined a key competitor.  Involving the trade secret laws of Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, the outcome at trial resulted in the enforcement of Ecolab’s noncompetition agreements and provided protection for other proprietary company information. 

  • Kroll Ontrack v. Renew Data: Represented Kroll Ontrack in a case brought under the Minnesota Trade Secrets Act against a competitor and former employees.  Case resolved in a confidential settlement.

  • St. Clair v. Kodak/Mirage v. Speaksl et al.: Defended technology owner against allegations that the inventors had stolen trade secrets in order to achieve their patented digital camera technology. Settlement obtained included an agreement by all plaintiffs that the inventors were the rightful owners of the patents and that the inventors did not steal any trade secrets.


* Past results are reported to provide the reader with an indication of the type of litigation we practice. They do not and should not be construed to create an expectation of result in any other case, as all cases are dependent upon their own unique fact situation and applicable law.



Christopher K. Larus


Chair, National IP and Technology Litigation Group

Shelley R. Gilliss, Ph.D.

Chief Business Intelligence Officer

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