On September 2, 2020, a Southern District of California judge granted Defendant Road Runner Sports, Inc.’s motion to dismiss, finding that Plaintiff, Profade Apparel, LLC, failed to state a trade secret misappropriation claim under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”).

At Road Runner’s request, Profade designed a “Trigonomic Arch Support Sock” for sale in Road Runner running stores.  But, after ordering just a few small batches of the socks, Road Runner allegedly stopped buying the socks from Profade.  According to Profade, Road Runner then contracted with a separate vendor to manufacture socks using Profade’s design.

In asserting a DTSA claim, Profade described its trade secrets as “proprietary and confidential information regarding the development, design, and manufacture of the Trigonomic Arch Support Sock.”  It also claimed Road Runner misappropriated the “roadmap” for producing the Trigonomic Arch Support Sock.  To support these allegations, Profade attached a contract between the parties to its complaint.  The contract contemplated the parties exchanging confidential information relating to the socks’ design and production.

But these allegations were insufficient.  According to the court, Profade failed to describe the trade secrets Road Runner had misappropriated with the requisite specificity.  Profade only “provide[d] a general high-level overview of [its] purported trade secret,” and that was not enough.  Profade needed to allege the “specific aspects or features of the Trigonomic Sock to sufficiently identify the trade secret at issue.”

The court dismissed the DTSA claim with leave to amend, so Profade will have a chance to plead its claim with more specificity.  Even so, this is yet another example of a district court requiring a particularized description of trade secrets in pleading a DTSA claim.

Holdings like this have two implications for plaintiffs asserting trade secret misappropriation claims.  First, plaintiffs should have a clear picture of the trade secrets at issue and the specific manner in which they were misappropriated before filing a complaint.  Second, plaintiffs may consider asserting state-law trade secret misappropriation claims in state court where possible, rather than relying on the DTSA.