Judge Caps Trade Secrets Damages at $5 Million

     (CN) – Ratier-Figeac, a French manufacturer of aircraft components, must pay $5 million in punitive damages for sharing trade secrets, a Kansas federal judge ruled.
     Initially U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson had ordered a $9.59 million award, but the 10th Circuit threw that decision out because Kansas law caps such awards at $5 million.
     The award stems from claims filed in 2005 by Ice Corp., a Manhattan, Kans.-based aerospace electronics manufacturer. Ice claimed that Ratier-Figeac and Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., a subsidiary of technology conglomerate United Technologies Corp., misappropriated trade secrets that were later used in a deicing controller product.
     To uphold the $9.59 million award on remand, Robinson would have had to find that Ratier-Figeac enjoyed more than $5 million in profits from its misconduct.
     Ice, however, failed to demonstrate such profits.
     “In sum, plaintiff has failed to meet its burden of coming forward with evidence that Ratier’s profitability due to the misconduct exceeded or is expected to exceed $5 million,” Robinson wrote. “And defendant’s response, which attempts to calculate Ratier’s profitability under the measure of profitability outlined by the court, suggests that the number is well below the $5 million threshold.”
     Robinson had stipulated in February that the appropriate measure of Ratier’s profitability should be the difference in Ratier’s profits had it paid Ice for its trade secrets and the cost savings it realized by passing them along to Artus, a third-party. This could be done by finding the difference in costs between the Ice and Artus designs.
     Ice had tried to determine the profitability of the entire propeller assembly project in calculating Ratier’s profitability, but Robinson said this maneuveras violated the parameters set by the 10th Circuit.
     Founded in 1904, Ratier-Figeac is a large propeller systems supplier and a major equipment manufacturer for all major air framers and aerospace manufacturers, according to its website.

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