Category Archives: Demurrer/Motion to Dismiss

Northern District Denies Preliminary Injunction Where Plaintiff’s Declaration Failed to Show Customer List Was the Result of Substantial Time, Expense and Effort on Part of Plaintiff

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The Northern District of California denied defendants’ motion to dismiss based on UTSA preemption and denied plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.  Kovesdy v. Kovesdy, C 10-02012 SBA, 2010 WL 3619826 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 13, 2010) (slip op.). Plaintiff Eric Kovesdy (“Eric” or “Plaintiff”) sued his stepmother, Defendant Hedy Kovesdy (“Hedy”) for, inter alia, for misappropriation of trade secrets under California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 3426-3426.11, and trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). Id. (1) Defendants moved to dismiss; and (2) Plaintiff moved for preliminary injunction.

Background

Peter Kovesdy (“Peter”) opened a professional tax practice known as Humex Income Tax (“Humex”).   Continue reading

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Northern District Rejects Motion to Dismiss Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Claim

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In Farhang v. Indian Institute Of Technology, Kharagpur, No. C-08-02658 RMW, WL 3504897 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 7, 2010), Defendant Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (“IIT”) moved to dismiss a complaint for misappropriation of trade secrets on the grounds that it failed to allege sufficient facts showing that: (1) the alleged trade secrets were subject to reasonable efforts to maintain their secrecy; (2) IIT misappropriated trade secrets; and (3) plaintiffs suffered harm as a result.  Id. *1.  The court denied the motion. Continue reading

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Northern District Dismisses UTSA Cause of Action for Source Code Partially Filed With Copyright Office

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The Northern District dismissed a California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA or CUTSA) cause of action in a software code distribution case for failure to adequately allege secrecy. Kema, Inc. v. Koperwhats, No. C-09-1587 MMC, 2010 WL 3464708 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 1, 2010) (slip op.). Continue reading

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Northern District Holds No Cause of Action Exists for Misappropriation of “Ideas”

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The Northern District held that no cause of action exists for “misappropriation of business ideas”.  Interserve, Inc. v. Fusion Garage PTE. Ltd., No. C 09-5812 RS (PVT), 2010 WL 3339520 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2010) (slip op.).

Plaintiff Interserve, Inc. and Fusion Garage collaborated in an attempt to bring to market a tablet computer, which they intended to call the “CrunchPad.”  Id. *1.  Shortly before the parties had planned to announce that the product would soon be released, defendant Fusion Garage advised plaintiffs that it would proceed on its own, and market a tablet computer under the name “joojoo” instead. Id. Plaintiffs brought suit, alleging that they are co-owners of the joojoo.  Id. They sought a preliminary injunction requiring defendant to sequester all proceeds it obtains from selling the product. Id. Defendant opposed the motion for preliminary injunction, and moved to dismiss the complaint, including a claim for misappropriation of “business ideas”. Id. Continue reading

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In Software Distribution Case, Northern District Holds That Improper Disclosure Element of UTSA Claim Properly Pled Where Acknowledgment of EULA Alleged

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In BMMSoft, Inc. v. White Oaks Technology, Inc., No. C-09-4562 MMC, 2010 WL 3340555 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2010), the court denied a motion to dismiss a misappropriation of trade secrets claim in an unauthorized software distribution case.  The court held that the improper disclosure element was properly pled where the complaint included an allegation that defendant clicked “I agree” to an end user license agreement restricting unauthorized disclosure. Continue reading

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Second District Court of Appeal Holds That “in the vast majority of wage and hour disputes, class suitability should not be determined on demurrer.”

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This next case highlights the difficulty of successfully eliminating a wage and hour class action in California at the demurrer stage.  After 3 bites at the apple, the trial judge in Gutierrez v. California Commerce Club, Inc., 2010 WL 2991875 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. August 02, 2010) (not reported) sustained without leave to amend the defendant California Commerce Club, Inc.’s (“Club”)  demurrer to plaintiff’s third amended complaint on the ground the plaintiffs had failed to show the existence of a class, and dismissed the action as to all representative claims.  In a 3-0 opinion, Justice Jeffrey J. Johnson, writing for the Second District Court of Appeal, reversed the trial court’s order.

Putative class representatives Sergio Gutierrez and Hector Salazar filed the operative third amended class action complaint against the Club, alleging, among other things, that they and other similarly situated members of the putative class were injured by the Club’s unlawful policy and practice of denying meal and rest breaks to certain hourly, non-union employees.

The Court of Appeal held that “In this action, as in the vast majority of wage and hour disputes, class suitability should not be determined on demurrer.”

Plaintiffs alleged that, pursuant to a Club policy or practice, they and similarly situated hourly, non-union employees have been denied meal and rest breaks to which they are legally entitled, or compensation therefor.  The Court reasoned that “[o]n these allegations, it is clear that the Club liability, if any, to the class as a whole, can be determined by reviewing a single or set of facts common to all.” Id. *6.  The Court wrote:

We return again to and rely upon the well-established principle, that “only in mass tort actions (or other actions equally unsuited to class action treatment) [should] class suitability … be determined at the pleading stage. In other cases, particularly those involving wage and hour claims, [such as the instant action,] class suitability should not be determined by demurrer.” ( Prince, supra, 118 Cal.App.4th at p. 1325, italics added; see also Tarkington, supra, 172 Cal.App.4th at p. 1512.).  Id.

We will reverse the order dismissing the action following the sustaining without leave to amend of the demurrer to the TAC based on the trial court’s finding that the pleading failed “to allege facts sufficient to show the existence of a class.” It was premature for the trial court to make determinations pertaining to class suitability on demurrer. The allegations of the operative complaint are sufficient to move the action beyond the pleading stage.

Id. *6.

The appeal was taken from an order of Judge Aurelio Munoz of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. (Judge Munoz is a retired judge of the L.A. Sup. Ct. assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to art. VI, § 6 of the Cal. Const.).  Matthew J. Matern and Thomas S. Campbell appeared for Plaintiffs and Appellants.  Anna Segobia Master and Jennifer Rappoport appeared for Defendant and Respondent.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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