Law of Cards: COMC Alleges Beckett Has No Trade Secrets

Law of Cards: COMC Alleges Beckett Has No Trade Secrets

The last time we checked on the Beckett v. COMC case, Beckett had requested permission to file an amended complaint to add a breach of contract claim against COMC. COMC opposed Beckett's request, which I theorized was a COMC strategy to re-argue its side of the case to the court, rather than an actual attempt to stop Beckett's motion.

As predicted, the court rejected COMC's opposition and allowed Beckett to amend its complaint.

In a minor backfire for Beckett, once it filed its amended complaint, COMC responded by adding a new claim of its own.

In its response, COMC asked the court to issue an order "that the Beckett Media data is simply an ordinary compilation of readily accessible materials that is not entitled to trade secret protection."

Legal translation: Judge, can you tell the world that everything Beckett has is freely available for everybody in the world to copy?

This is an amusing request from COMC that raises the stakes for Beckett. Still, it'll be difficult for COMC to knock out all of Beckett's data as trade secrets. Information like checklists and publicly available pricing information, that is more likely to fall. Any Beckett data that exists behind a pay wall subject to a "terms of service" agreement, however, will likely still be protected as trade secret.

Assuming, of course, that in the "terms of service," the users acknowledge Beckett's data contains trade secrets and that they won't recirculate.

I don't think COMC intends to knock out all of Beckett's data, but it is telegraphing one of COMC's better defenses. In order for Beckett to prevail on its trade secret claims, it's not good enough to generally say "they stole our trade secrets." Beckett needs to 1) identify specific data that COMC misused, 2) prove that this specific data could be protected by trade secret law (show the data wasn't already in the public domain, etc.) and 3) show that Beckett took adequate precautions to protect the data as a trade secret.

Legal translation: You can't transform public knowledge into a trade secret. Also, if you don't protect your trade secrets well enough in the past, they might not be trade secrets in the future.

COMC's defense doesn't change the case much,m but it makes it important for Beckett to be choosy about which trade secrets it asserts. No longer is this a case where Beckett can throw 100 trade secret "darts" and hope one hits the bulls' eye. Sure, if one hits the bulls' eye, Beckett might win the case, but those 99 trade secret "darts" that missed, will be free for anyone to use.

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Paul Lesko has litigated intellectual property for over 15 years. Don’t hold the fact that Paul is a lawyer against him, he’s also a rabid baseball and college basketball fan, and an avid baseball card collector. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

User Comments

  1. This is why I hate Beckett…Topps puts out a checklist then Beckett says it is my checklist. Ebays sales history is mine to use not anyone elses says Beckett. This is the downfall for Beckett as a collector of 30 years. Good bye Beckett it has been a good run.

  2. Agreed, it’s like McD’s suing Burger King for making burgers.

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