Horvitz & Levy successfully defended a pretrial dismissal in a misappropriation of trade secrets case in which the plaintiff sought more than $87 million.
The plaintiff claimed he developed an idea for a nationwide automotive parts recycling company in the late 1990s. Plaintiff wrote a business plan and mailed letters to business leaders searching for a well-heeled partner. AutoNation allegedly responded and met with plaintiff, but later declined the opportunity to partner. Twenty years later, a friend told plaintiff his plan had been executed by a national parts recycler with links to AutoNation. Plaintiff sued AutoNation for misappropriating his trade secret and for breaching an implied-in-fact contract. The district court dismissed plaintiff's action.
Horvitz & Levy defended AutoNation’s judgment in the Ninth Circuit on several grounds: the business plan was not a trade secret (it was an idea grounded in common sense and general business principles followed by many companies); plaintiff did not maintain the secrecy of his plan; plainitff did not allege how AutoNation improperly used or disclosed the plan; and plaintiff's implied-in-fact contract claim failed because plaintiff sought to partner with AutoNation in a new venture, not to sell AutoNation his idea. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in an unpublished decision.