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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Injunction Set to Protect 3-D Printer Secrets

CHICAGO (CN) - A 3-D printer seller deserves a protective injunction after an employee joined a rival company with a year's worth of stolen documents, a federal judge ruled.

Rodger Reaume had worked as a salesman for Fisher/Unitec, one of the only resellers of Stratsys 3-D printers in the Midwest, since 2010.

A 3-D printer makes a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model by adding successive layers of material in different shapes, and is used for industrial prototyping.

In February 2012, a rival company, Computer Aided Technology Inc. (CATI), offered Reaume a job, which he accepted, despite the noncompete clause in his contract.

Reaume nevertheless stayed on at Fisher/United for another year, during which time he collected documents that he variously emailed to his personal account, stored on a flash drive or directly emailed to CATI president Richard Werneth.

Reaume did not leave to work for CATI until March 2013, at which point he transferred his Fisher/Unitech documents onto his CATI-issued computer.

U.S. District Judge John Tharp Jr. granted Fisher/Unitech's request for a preliminary injunction last week prohibiting the use of its confidential information. Tharp declined, however, to place any restrictions on Reaume's employment, finding the noncompete clause in his Fisher/Unitech contract overbroad.

"With due respect to Fisher/Unitech for its innovations in marketing an emerging technology, the 'confidential' and 'unique' skills it trumpets are the very definition of the general knowledge and experience that cannot be protected with non-compete restrictions," Tharp wrote.

Most of the skills and knowledge Reaume gained by working at Fisher/Unitech were actually "built upon a foundation of knowledge and resources that come from the manufacturer, Stratsys," which provides multi-day long training sessions for its resellers, the judge found.

"The court shares Fisher/Unitech's concerns about Mr. Reaume's lack of respect for his obligation to safeguard its confidential information ... Mr. Reaume's inappropriate conduct with respect to Fisher/Unitech's confidential information has been, and will be, enjoined, and it might entitle Fisher/Unitech to collect money damages once this case is heard on the merits," the ruling states. "Further restrictions on Mr. Reaume's ability to earn a living in his chosen profession, however, are not warranted by the concerns Fisher/Unitech has put on the record in these proceedings to date."

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