In a verdict likely to factor into future cases involving intellectual property and concrete production, the jury hearing Eldorado Stone LLC v Renaissance Stone Inc., et al. has awarded the plaintiff more than $17 million.
Source: Headwaters Inc./Eldorado Stone LLC, San Marcos, Calif.; CP staff
In a verdict likely to factor into future cases involving intellectual property and concrete production, the jury hearing Eldorado Stone LLC v Renaissance Stone Inc., et al. has awarded the plaintiff more than $17 million. After a two-and-a-half-week trial in United States District Court for the Southern District of California, where details on concrete mix designs and coloring methods for precast faux stone veneer became prime evidence, jurors concluded the defendant had engaged in especially brazen corporate theft harmful to Eldorado Stone.
They found that San Bernardino-area Renaissance Stone, former Eldorado employee Alfonso Alvarez, and Renaissance investor Robert Hager misappropriated Eldorado’s trade secrets, infringed on Eldorado Stone trademarks and copyrights, and interfered in the economic relationships between Eldorado and its customers. The jury also found Renaissance President Joseph Smith liable for copyright infringement, awarding the plaintiff an additional $3.85 million in punitive damages.
Eldorado’s three-year-old suit charged that Alvarez, as engineering director in charge of quality assurance, downloaded all of Eldorado’s mix designs and specific manufacturing processes on a CD and took that data with him upon his departure in May 2004–just months before cofounding Renaissance. Not only were Eldorado-created computer files found on Renaissance’s seized computers, but expert testimony from an engineer who analyzed the color and production formulas of two sets of plaintiff and defendant products found them to be identical. In fact, every product offered by Renaissance was found to be identical to those of Eldorado.
“This is a bittersweet victory,” says Eldorado Stone President Mike Lewis. “The time and effort to prosecute this case has been a huge distraction. However, the clear decision by the jury underscores the value of our trade secrets and proprietary information. This intellectual property has taken years and even decades to develop and is worthy of protection.”
A leader in the rapid growth faux-stone precast veneer market, Eldorado was represented by Callie Bjurstrom and co-counsel Andrea Kimball, both of San Diego-based Luce, Forward, Hamilton, and Scripps LLP. Later this week, Eldorado lawyers return to the courtroom to seek a permanent injunction against Renaissance, thus stopping it from using Eldorado trade secrets in any production–effectively putting the company out of business.