Facebook Heads to Court Over Claims of Stolen Trade Secrets

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Facebook will have to face British engineering firm BladeRoom Group in court over claims that the social media giant stole its design for a modular data center.

BladeRoom Group and co-plaintiff Bripco sued Facebook in March 2015, claiming in a heavily redacted complaint that the Menlo Park, California-based company ripped off its design and construction techniques for modular data centers after a meeting in 2012.

BladeRoom says Facebook lured it into revealing its design and method for the construction of a data center called the “Armature” technology by promising a partnership, but instead misappropriated its trade secrets and hired a company called Emerson Network Power to take BRG’s technique and use it in a data center it built in Lulea, Sweden called LLA2.

In a heavily redacted ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila remained unconvinced that BRG has no case.

Back in August, BRG disclosed 13 combination trade secrets, each consisting of 25 some combination of its 25 separately asserted trade secrets. In its motion for summary judgment, Facebook claimed that none of this contained any explanation of the significance or novelty of these combinations, or how the parts work together to create a trade secret.

Davila rejected that argument, writing, “Facebook’s persistent suggestion that BladeRoom altogether failed to disclose the significance of its combination trade secrets is an ineffectual overstatement that does not account for either the record or the nature of the combination trade secrets.”

Davila also found that BRG provided enough evidence for a jury to find that Facebook improperly obtained its trade secrets.

“First, the jury could infer that Facebook’s implemented data center design shifted to a model closely resembling BladeRoom’s modular technology after Facebook acquired BladeRoom’s trade secrets,” he wrote. “Second, a reasonable jury could find several marked similarities between LLA2 and BladeRoom’s trade secrets.”

He also said a jury could find that BladeRoom’s loss of a data center project in Oregon called “Sub-Zero” to another company caused profit losses that could be attributed to Facebook’s disclosure of its confidential information.

Facebook spokesperson Genevieve Grdina declined to comment. BladeRoom did not respond to email requests seeking comment.

%d bloggers like this: