Curvature Inc. brought suit against British contractor Cantel Computer Services LTD (“Cantel”) for breach of contract, unfair and deceptive trade practices, tortious interference, and violations of the North Carolina Trade Secrets Protection Act in North Carolina Business Court, a special forum within North Carolina’s Superior Court that handles cases involving complex and significant issues of corporate and commercial law.
Curvature hired Cantel to provide IT services in the United Kingdom, and as part of this arrangement, the parties signed an agreement to protect any Curvature trade secret information provided to Cantel and require Cantel to safeguard that information and not steal Curvature’s customers or employees. Curvature now alleges that Cantel breached that agreement by hiring three employees from Curvature’s United Kingdom office and approaching five Curvature customers in the United Kingdom. Curvature is seeking an injunction to prevent further violation of the parties’ agreement, an order to return Curvature’s trade secret information, and compensatory damages that it alleges should be tripled due to Cantel’s deceptive trade practices.
Cantel moved to dismiss on several grounds. Cantel claims that the North Carolina court lacks jurisdiction because Cantel has never done any work in North Carolina or even in the United States and has no North Carolina employees. In addition, Cantel claims that it never entered any formation agreement with Curvature and instead had a business agreement with Exquip Network Services Limited, a British IT company, whose parent company later merged with Curvature to become Curvature Services UK. At best, Cantel employees claim they did limited work for Curvature Services UK.
This case is a helpful reminder about the importance of maintaining trade secret protections abroad which takes on increasing significance as valuable intellectual property regularly crosses global borders.
You can access the complaint by clicking here.