United States: Gyms, Romance, And Reality TV: Rethinking What Qualifies As Trade Secret Theft

Last Updated: November 26 2013
Article by Valerie M. Goo and Catherine Y. Lui

When you think of gyms, romance, and reality TV, what's most likely to come to mind is an episode of Jersey Shore — not a lawsuit for trade secret misappropriation.  But you won't hear about JWoww, Snooki, or The Situation in three recently-filed trade secret complaints.  These complaints reflect a growing trend in which trade secret cases aren't limited to traditional spheres like corporate espionage or technical secrets like source code, but instead are based on creative trade secret assertions that go after competitors in unique settings.

Working Out May be Hazardous to Your (Financial) Health

In October 2013, popular upscale gym franchise Equinox Holdings filed a lawsuit against SoHo Strength Lab, a competitor gym created by three former Equinox personal trainers.  Equinox alleges that it spent extensive time and money compiling databases of information about its members — including not only their contact information but also data on their height, weight, fitness levels, buying histories, and training programs.  Although this type of data doesn't fit the traditional mold, it's not hard to see how it could potentially be valuable to a competitor in the health and fitness industry.  Equinox's trade secret allegations are based on "information and belief," meaning that it still needs to develop its evidence and theories for how the theft occurred, so it remains to be seen how its claims will work out (so to speak).  All we know is that if Equinox wins it will be able to buy a lot of exercise bikes — it's seeking $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Romance is a Trade Secret

"Hell hath no fury like a speed dating service scorned." In December 2012, Match.com contracted with Speed Date to set up speed date events on behalf of Match.com members, but the fling was short-lived: Match broke off the relationship just six months later in May 2013.  A few weeks ago, Speed Date sued, claiming that Match.com stole Speed Date's trade secret "formula and pattern for marketing and running speed dating events, which resulted in their status as the most successful speed dating business/service in the nation."  Speed Date alleges that Match improperly used the secret formula to host its own speed dating events, and is seeking $5.65 million in damages to help mend its broken heart.

Reality TV is (Not Surprisingly) Drama

You don't hear about reality TV and trade secret actions every day (or really ever), but the Western District of Wisconsin will have some "must see" courtroom drama in the coming months.  Plaintiff Sean Morrison Entertainment was the producer of "Ultimate Women's Challenge," a reality TV series about 16 female mixed martial arts fighters competing in a tournament that was supposed to air on network television.  Each of the MMA fighters signed a participation agreement providing that the outcomes of the individual matches and the overall tournament winner were trade secrets.  The agreement prohibited the disclosure of the tournament results.  Sean Morrison alleges that since this was a reality show, the economic value of the show was entirely dependent on maintaining the secrecy of the contest elements.  (Those who watch The Bachelor would probably agree.)

So how did the fighters misappropriate the trade secrets?  According to a federal complaint filed by Sean Morrison last month, they and their law firm O'Flaherty Heim Egan & Birnbaum (OHEB) intentionally leaked the results of the series —  including the winner of the challenge — when they previously sued Sean Morrison for non-payment and discussed the results in their publicly-filed complaint.  An MMA blog found out about the suit and broadcast the names of the winners, destroying the secrecy (and allegedly, the value) of the series.  Sean Morrison argues that the defendants should have filed their lawsuit under seal to preserve the confidential information about the results of the show and that no network will now pick up the series because the results are all over the Internet.  Sean Morrison is seeking $1 million in damages and attorneys' fees.

What these cases show is that trade secrets come in all shapes and sizes.  Trade secrets don't always have to be top secret source code, technical designs, or the formula for Coke.  All companies have trade secrets, but sometimes you need to think creatively to realize what they are and how they've been misused.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
16 Oct 2018, Other, Washington, DC, United States

Orrick Partner Rohit Sachdev is proud to Chair the inaugural Storage East summit put on by Infocast on October 16-17th in Washington, D.C.

16 Oct 2018, Other, Washington, DC, United States

Orrick Partner Rohit Sachdev is proud to Chair the inaugural Storage East summit put on by Infocast on October 16-17th in Washington, D.C.

17 Oct 2018, Speaking Engagement, New York, United States

Employment partner, Jill Rosenberg is participating in PLI’s Employment law Institute 2018.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions