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Bondpro Corp. v. Siemens Power Generation, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
463 F.3d 702 (2006)


Facts

Siemens Power Generation, Inc. (Siemens) (defendant) manufactured electrical generators that used insulated copper coils. To form the insulation into the proper shape for the coils, Siemens used bowl-shaped molds and applied heat. However, this process sometimes created wrinkles in the finished form. BondPro Corp. (BondPro) (plaintiff) developed a process for shaping insulation that used a vacuum, heat, and air pressure instead of one of the bowl molds, which led to fewer wrinkles. BondPro’s process specifically used a container called an autoclave to provide the air pressure and heat. At least one other company, Torr Technologies, had also developed a method of using air pressure and heat to mold the insulation into the necessary shape. Torr Technologies described its process in advertising materials that it circulated at a trade show. BondPro approached Siemens about licensing BondPro’s insulation-molding technique. The parties signed two confidentiality agreements. The confidentiality agreements expressly excluded information that was generally known or was already known to Siemens before BondPro disclosed its process. Under these agreements, BondPro disclosed and demonstrated its insulation-molding process to Siemens. Siemens did not license BondPro’s technique. Instead, Siemens filed a patent application for an insulation-molding process that was similar to BondPro’s process except that it did not include the final step of using the autoclave. The patent application was rejected, and Siemens did not use BondPro’s process for any manufacturing. BondPro sued Siemens for theft of a trade secret, claiming that Siemens had publicly disclosed BondPro’s trade secret in the patent application. A jury found that Siemens had misappropriated BondPro’s trade secret. However, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law for Siemens. BondPro appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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