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Cancer Sniffing Dog Company Says Ex-Researcher Took Secrets

Nov. 12, 2019, 6:25 PM

BioScent Dx Inc., which is developing a testing protocol based on the potential of dogs to “smell cancer,” sued its former top researcher in Delaware, claiming she used its trade secrets to found a competing company with nearly the same name.

Heather Junqueira was fired in September after she refused to stop using BioScent Dx’s business resources, intellectual property, and vendors to get veterinary startup BioScent Inc. off the ground, according to the Chancery Court complaint.

Junqueira allegedly set up BioScent Inc. and a related nonprofit, BioScent K9 Inc., in a bid to diagnose pets, rather than people, through the “cancer sniffing” methods developed by BioScent Dx. She founded the companies without permission from BioScent Dx and repeatedly concealed their existence, in violation of the noncompete in her shareholder agreement, the suit says.

She also kept marketing her two veterinary startups as “sister companies” of BioScent Dx despite a warning to stop, according to the complaint. Junqueira allegedly ignored “potential damage to BioScent Dx’s credibility, confusion due to name and business similarities, and concerns that the second business would be a distraction” that could “dissuade investors.”

After being fired, Junqueira locked BioScent Dx’s other shareholders and employees out of its offices, according to the complaint. A few weeks later, she successfully poached her first BioScent Dx client, a Pennsylvania osteopathic school, the suit says.

Cause of Action: Breach of contract; breach of fiduciary duty; tortious interference; conversion.

Relief: An injunction, damages, costs, fees, interest, and the return of all “business assets” taken by Junqueira.

Response: Junqueira didn’t immediately respond to a Nov. 12 request for comment.

Attorneys: BioScent Dx is represented by Ferry Joseph PA.

The case is BioScent Dx Inc. v. Junqueira, Del. Ch., No. 2019-0901, complaint filed 11/8/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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