Judge Johnston Concludes Multi-Week Trade Secrets Trial

February 13, 2019


On November 7, 2018, Judge Johnston concluded a multi-week jury trial in Incyte Corporation v. Flexus Biosciences, Inc. et al., C.A. No. N15C-09-055 MMJ CCLD. The trial began on October 22, 2018, and the case was one of the largest cases tried to a verdict in the history of the CCLD. Although the plaintiff had originally alleged misappropriation of multiple trade secrets, only two secrets were involved in the jury trial: (1) a “half-life” secret involving the half-life of a particular drug compound, and (2) a human whole blood assay secret. At trial, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants “stole” the two trade secrets and used them to gain a significant head-start in their drug development program. The defendants maintained that the purported secrets “were neither secrets, nor were they stolen, nor were they important.”

Ultimately, the trial resulted in a victory for the defendants. With respect to the human whole blood assay secret, the jury found that it was not a trade secret. With respect to the half-life secret, the jury found that it was a trade secret that had been misappropriated, but awarded no damages. Accordingly, the plaintiff received no recovery.

Analysis: This case was one of the largest CCLD jury trials and highlights the complex technology cases that are frequently filed in the CCLD. As a hallmark of the CCLD, Judge Johnston handled the case from filing through trial and got the case to a jury trial in approximately three years. Since its creation in May 2010, the CCLD has become a preferred venue for filing trade secret cases seeking money damages because it has shown a propensity to swiftly move such complex cases to trial.

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