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Tribocor Technologies, Inc., v. Gansam Rai and Aircomp LLC

Thomas Britven and Douglas Ellis were asked to serve in an expert witness capacity by counsel for Aircomp LLC and Dr. Gansam Rai, in a trade secret litigation matter. Tribocor, a former supplier of polycrystalline diamond (PCD) inserts once employed Dr. Rai and supplied Aircomp with PCD inserts. When Dr. Rai left Tribocor and Aircomp began purchasing PCD inserts from a different supplier, Tribocor sued for breach of contract, tortious interference with existing contractual relations, misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information, unfair competition, conspiracy, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, inducement to breach fiduciary duty, fraud by nondisclosure, and unjust enrichment.

Tribocor’s damages expert opined that Tribocor was entitled to six forms of disgorgement, including Aircomp’s product cost savings, avoided research and development costs, profits Aircomp made on third party sales, royalty payments received by Aircomp on third party sales, certain costs or expenses incurred by Tribocor, and certain commissions received by Dr. Rai. These claims totaled approximately $12 million. Mr. Britven testified on the basis that even assuming Tribocor’s allegations were true, the alleged trade secrets had de minimis, if any, commercial value. Mr. Britven also testified that any benefits received by Aircomp and Dr. Rai were unrelated to Tribocor’s trade secrets and confidential information.

A jury in the District Court of Harris Country, Texas found that one or more of the Defendants misappropriated certain of Tribocor’s trade secrets, failed to comply with a duty to keep confidential any new trade secrets or confidential information learned while employed at Tribocor, and that Aircomp knowingly participated in Dr. Rai’s disclosure of Tribocor’s trade secrets and intentionally interfered with Dr. Rai’s employment agreement with Tribocor. The jury, however, agreed with Mr. Britven, awarding Tribocor $0 in damages.

The case team included Mr. Britven, Douglas Ellis, and Lauren O’Shea. The team’s rigorous and detailed analysis of Tribocor’s many claims provided solid support for Mr. Britven’s and Mr. Ellis’ opinions. The team’s carefully crafted damages presentation further allowed the jury to understand and distinguish Tribocor’s trade secrets and confidential information from Tribocor’s various disgorgement claims.