On September 23rd, 2019, the District Court for the District of Colorado awarded Atlas Biologicals, Inc. a total of $2 million against Defendant Thomas Kutrubes and his company, Peak Serum, Inc. Kutrubes, a part owner and former employee of Atlas, was found liable for trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Atlas holds trade secrets related to its bovine serum products, which are used for “cell culture and research in the medical, veterinary, and biological sciences.” While still an employee and part-owner of Atlas, Kutrubes founded Peak Serum, which would directly compete with Atlas. Kutrubes ultimately left Atlas, but prior to doing so, he sent a number of Atlas’ confidential documents to his personal email account, including, among other things, Atlas’s customer contact lists. Kutrubes also sent emails from his Atlas account to select Atlas customers, informing the customers that Atlas and Peak Serum were “sister companies” and that Peak Serum was “assuming Atlas’s international customers.”
Atlas discovered that Kutrubes had sent company documents to his personal email, and subsequently brought suit. After a bench trial, the court found Kutrubes and Peak Serum in violation of the Colorado Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA), finding that “the information contained in Atlas’s customer database, and documents that were created with the information it contained, constituted valid trade secrets under CUTSA.” The court awarded Atlas $681,946.81, the equivalent of Peak Serum’s profits from sales made to former Atlas customers. The court also awarded “an additional $681,946.81 in exemplary damages on this claim,” finding that “Kutrubes’s and Peak Serum’s misappropriation of the information in Atlas’s customer database was attended by circumstances of willful and wanton disregard of Atlas’s rights.” The court further awarded attorney’s fees, “in light of the Court’s conclusion that Kutrubes’s and Peak Serum’s misappropriation of Atlas’s trade secrets was willful and malicious.” The case is Atlas Bioligicals, Inc. v. Kutrubes, Peak Serum, Inc., and Peak Serum, LLC, 15-cv-00355-CMA-KMT (D. Colo. Sept. 23, 2019).