Patrick Keating

Texas Trade Secrets

Category: SLAPP Statute

TCPA, Trade Secrets and Discovery

In a 2017 blog post, I discussed a Texas appellate court decision that was notable because it applied the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”) statute to theft of trade secret lawsuits.  The TCPA provides a defendant who is sued for exercising the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of association or the right to petition the government the ability to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit at the outset of the case.  In addition to a potential expedited dismissal, the TCPA places significant limits on the discovery a plaintiff may obtain before a trial court rules on a TCPA motion to dismiss.  The 2017 appellate court decision was the first in Texas to apply the TCPA to a theft of trade secrets claim.

The Dallas Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in which the TCPA was, once again, applied in a theft of trade secrets claim (the “In re Spex Group” case).  While the Dallas court was not asked to determine whether the TCPA applies in such a case, the court did not question the applicability of the statute.

Chalk up In re Spex Group as another case in the column of those supporting application of the TCPA to theft of trade secret claims. Continue reading

The TCPA Statute and Trade Secrets

The Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”) is a statute in Texas that provides protection from frivolous lawsuits to people exercising their U.S. Constitution First Amendment rights.  The law provides a defendant who is sued for exercising the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of association or the right to petition the government the ability to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit at the outset of the case.  The statute provides that the case shall be dismissed unless the plaintiff presents the court with evidence establishing a “prima facie case for each element of the claim in question.”

Zach Wolfe is in the midst of an interesting three-part blog post series in which he discusses a May 2017 decision by the Austin Court of Appeals, Elite Auto Body, LLC v. Autocraft Bodywerks, Inc., No. 03-15-00064-CV, 2017 WL 1833495 (Tex. App.—Austin May 5, 2017).  The court concluded that a Plaintiff’s theft of trade secrets claim was, in part, subject to a TCPA motion to dismiss.  Continue reading

Issue Joined in Anti-SLAPP Appeal

Earlier this week, Charlotte Rutherford (“Rutherford”) filed her responsive brief in the appeal filed by her former employer Schlumberger.  The case is considered to be high profile in the legal community because Rutherford succeeded in having the majority of Schlumberger’s claims against her dismissed based on her reliance upon the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act (“TCPA”).

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