California’s 6th District Court of Appeals recently ruled that Intel is not liable for using purchased software that contained trade secrets. Basically what happened is Circuit Semantics allegedly stole Silvaco Data System’s trade secrets and used them to make software, software that Intel then purchased and used. Intel did this despite despite knowing Circuit Semantics was being sued for stealing of Silvaco’s trade secrets. One of the things that makes this case great is the analogy the court uses to describe the situation.
“One who eats the pie does not, by virtue of that act alone, make ‘use’ of the recipe in any ordinary sense… This is true even if the baker is accused of stealing the recipe from a competitor, and the diner knows of the accusation.”
That is the nicest thing the court said about the plaintiff’s case. “[S]trained is too small a word to describe Silvaco’s argument.” Ouch. But honestly, Silvaco should have seen this coming. The appendix for its case was over 8,000 pages. If you force a judge to read something that generates an appendix that large, he’s probably not going to be happy when he’s done. The court’s comment on the size of the case: “[s]eldom have so many trees died for so little.” It can’t feel good to have your hard work described like that in a public opinion. To Silvaco’s credit, it did have a good reply: “[w]e always appreciate guidance from the court in terms of its expectations.” Wait, sorry, that wasn’t a good reply. Seriously, how could it not have thought something was wrong when it amassed that many documents. No one is going to read that much information. When the appendix is so big you need another appendix just to navigate it, you need to rethink your strategy. Maybe next time it can try bribing the judge with some sweet, warm apple pie baked just like Mom used to: from a stolen Sarah Lee recipe.