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Protege Biomedical Loses Bid to Revive Trade Secrets Lawsuit

April 4, 2022, 11:29 PM

Protege Biomedical LLC failed on Monday to convince the Eighth Circuit to revive a trade secrets lawsuit it brought against a consultant it had hired to find a potential buyer.

Protege sued the potential buyer, a competitor called Z-Medica, alleging it stole trade secrets and violated non-disclosure agreements. Once Z-Medica settled that case, Protege filed claims against Duff & Phelps Securities LLC, the consultant that had identified the potential buyer.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota tossed the suit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed that ruling in a split decision.

Protege argued primarily that Duff & Phelps had breached a contract when it failed to prevent Protege from disclosing its own proprietary information during a call with Z-Medica, but the appeals court said the contract only required Duff & Phelps to be responsible for its own conduct.

The remaining claims, including for unlawful practice of law and breach of fiduciary duty, were dismissed for similar reasons.

Judges Raymond W. Gruender and David R. Stras signed the per curiam opinion. Judge Ralph R. Erickson dissented, saying he would have reversed the dismissal of the breach of contract, negligence, and professional malpractice claims.

Winston & Strawn LLP and Fredrikson & Byron PA represented Duff & Phelps. Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP represented Protege.

The case is Protege Biomedical LLC v. Duff & Phelps Sec. LLC, 8th Cir., No. 21-01368, 4/4/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcAfee@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com