Appellate court affirms ruling rejecting Ultimax claims against CTS Cement

Source: CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp., Cypress, Calif.

The Court of Appeal of the State of California has affirmed a Los Angeles Superior Court of California ruling against Ultimax Cement and its principal, Hassan Kunbargi, in their alleged trade secret misappropriation case against CTS Cement and Chairman Edward Rice.

In 2006, the plaintiffs filed suit against the packaged-concrete producer, alleging unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets. The suit was a follow-up to a 2002 patent infringement case, where Ultimax alleged that CTS had infringed three of its patents and stolen its trade secrets. The U.S. District Court dismissed Ultimax’s trade secret claim in a January 2008 ruling.

The suit in Superior Court of California centered once again around Ultimax’s contention that CTS had misappropriated confidential information, namely the combination of lithium carbonate and citric acid in rapid-setting calcium sulfoaluminate cements. Ultimax sought monetary damages against CTS. In a sweeping Statement of Decision that adopted CTS positions, the Honorable Judge Jon Mayeda found that a) the combination of citric acid and lithium carbonate in cement was not a secret and was well known in the industry; b) CTS and Rice did not misappropriate anything from Ultimax, and had never used the allegedly confidential information; and, c) in any event, Ultimax did not prove it had suffered any damage.

Judge Mayeda denied Ultimax and Kunbargi any monetary relief, noting “even though Ultimax always had the ability to sell its cement and always had access to the formula [which, in fact, it did not even follow], Ultimax was never able to earn a profit.” In a blistering ruling against Ultimax and the failings of its counsel, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the Superior Court judgment. CTS Cement was represented by the Beverly Hills law firm of Leonard, Dicker & Schreiber, LLP.