IP Law News

Funeral Software Secrets Stolen Via Ex-CEO, Park Lawn Says (1)

Nov. 3, 2020, 5:06 PM

Park Lawn Corp., the owner of more than 200 cemeteries and funeral homes in Canada and the U.S., accused a U.K. startup of using Park Lawn’s former chief executive officer to steal trade secrets for software that automates record keeping and site management.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, the company said rival PlotBox Inc. induced Andrew Clark to violate nondisclosure and noncompete agreements he signed before resigning as Park Lawn’s CEO and chairman earlier this year. PlotBox, which seeks to sell management software to funeral homes and cemeteries, made Clark its chairman in June.

Since 2013, Park Lawn has expanded from six cemeteries in Toronto to own facilities in five Canadian provinces and 15 U.S. states. To help run the growing network of assets, it invested more than $1 million to develop management software called FaCTS that it planned to use internally and sell to others in the industry, according to the complaint.

“PlotBox has willfully and maliciously misappropriated PLC’s trade secrets by acquiring them through improper means by inducing Mr. Clark [to] disclose those secrets to undercut PLC’s development of its software,” said Park Lawn, which has corporate offices in Toronto and Houston.

“The suit against PlotBox is baseless, and PlotBox intends to continue to vigorously defend against PLC’s allegations,” Leona McAllister, the chief commercial officer, said in an email Tuesday. “Consistent with his fiduciary duties, Mr. Clark has never disclosed to PlotBox any confidential information or trade secrets of PLC.”

FaCTS software “includes proprietary features concerning records management, deed management, property management, contract management, accounting reconciliation and customer interface,” Park Lawn said. PlotBox is “developing and marketing an industry-specific software technology tool that competes against FaCTS.”

Park Lawn said it didn’t learn until June, after Clark “had been serving as an agent of PlotBox for eight months,” that the former CEO had been appointed to PlotBox’s board. Clark’s noncompete agreement bars him from working for PlotBox in any capacity through Aug. 31, 2021, according to the complaint.

Park Lawn said it wants cash compensation of “actual, consequential and punitive damages.”

The case is Park Lawn Corp. v. PlotBox Inc., 20-cv-1484, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

(Updates with comment from PlotBox.)

--With assistance from Hugo Miller.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Christopher Yasiejko in Wilmington, Delaware, at cyasiejko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net

Steve Stroth, Peter Jeffrey

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

To read more articles log in. To learn more about a subscription click here.