Pestco, Inc. v. Associated Products, Inc.

880 A.2d 700 (2005)

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Pestco, Inc. v. Associated Products, Inc.

Pennsylvania Superior Court
880 A.2d 700 (2005)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

Pestco, Inc. (defendant) and Associated Products, Inc. (API) (plaintiff) were rival businesses competing in the public restroom supply industry. Both API and Pestco used Watkins Motor Lines, Inc. (WML) (plaintiff) trucks to deliver their products. William Coates was a truck driver for WML. Pestco discovered that Coates had shown several bills of lading from Pestco shipments to API employees. A bill of lading is a receipt from a carrier, like WML, listing the items contained in a particular shipment. Pestco’s bills of lading did not contain specific product descriptions or prices but did list customer names. Pestco sued API and WML for misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information. The trial court held Pestco’s bills of lading were equivalent to customer lists and therefore entitled to trade-secret status and protections. Alternatively, the trial court held that Pestco could recover for misappropriation of its confidential business information. The trial court granted Pestco a permanent injunction and issued compensatory and punitive damages against API. No damages were issued against WML. API appealed, arguing that (1) a bill of lading is not a trade secret; and (2) punitive damages were inappropriate because there was no misappropriation of trade secrets.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tamilia, J.)

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