In what may be a first-of-its kind ruling, on March 13, 2021, the Northern District of California granted Defendant Ruifeng Biztech, Inc.’s motion to strike nine of plaintiff Quintara Biosciences, Inc.’s alleged DNA sequencing trade secrets, leaving plaintiff with only its customer list and vendor list to support its claims under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act.
On November 20, 2020, the Court granted Ruifeng’s motion for a protective order under California Code of Civil Procedure section 2019.210, which requires that a trade secret plaintiff set forth with “reasonable particularity” its alleged trade secrets. The Court’s November 18, 2020 order also commanded Quintara to set forth the specifics of each alleged trade secrets, including how it met the Defend Trade Secrets Act’s definition of a “trade secret.” The court explained “The point is to nail down the asserted trade secrets with sufficient particularity to permit us to discern the reasonable bounds of discovery, to give defendants notice to mount a cogent defense, and to prevent plaintiff from indulging in shifting sands.”
Quintara attempted to comply with the disclosure requirement, and Ruifeng moved to strike and dismiss. Leaving only Quintara’s customer and vendor list claims intact, the Court struck all nine of Quintara’s alleged DNA sequencing trade secrets. “We are pleased with the ruling, which dramatically narrows the issues, and harmonizes California’s trade secret disclosure requirement under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act,” commented Dylan W. Wiseman, a shareholder in Buchatler’s San Francisco and Sacramento offices, and Co-Chair of Buchalter’s Trade Secrets and Employee Mobility practice group.
Dylan Wiseman of Buchalter commented:
“There are several federal district court cases which apply California Code of Civil Procedure section 2019.210 under the Defend Trade Secrets Act when granting protective orders. In comparison, after we obtained such a protective order, the court ordered Quintara to comply with Section 2019.210 and explain how its alleged trade secrets met the definition of a “trade secret” under the DTSA. When it failed to comply fully, we moved to strike and dismiss the DTSA claims. The court gutted all nine of Quintara’s DNA sequencing trade secrets, leaving only its customer and vendor database claims remaining. The ruling harmonizes Section 2019.210 with the DTSA in a way that has real consequences.”