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Centurion Industries, Inc. v. Warren Steurer and Associates

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
665 F.2d 323 (1981)


Centurion Industries, Inc. (Centurion) (plaintiff) owned a patent for a type of “teaching device.” Cybernetic Systems, Inc. (Cybernetic) manufactured an electronic “teaching machine.” Alleging patent infringement, Centurion sued Warren Steurer and Associates (defendant) and another party (defendant) in a federal district court in California. The defendants were either both customers of Cybernetic or a customer and a manufacturer’s representative of Cybernetic. Centurion’s attempt to bring Cybernetic into the California suit failed because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it. Centurion subpoenaed Cybernetic in New Mexico, requesting that is produce documents to be used in the California suit. Cybernetic objected on the ground that the software information sought by Centurion constituted trade secrets. Centurion filed a motion in a federal district court in New Mexico to compel Cybernetic’s production. There was evidence that experts for the defendants in the California action would be given access to Cybernetic’s software information in order to rebut Centurion’s claim of infringement. A magistrate judge granted Centurion’s motion but also issued a protective order limiting access to and use of the disclosed materials. The district court upheld the magistrate’s order. Cybernetic appealed.

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