BAYER CORP. v. ROCHE MOLECULAR SYSTEMS, INC.
72 F.Supp.2d 1111 (1999)
BAYER CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
ROCHE MOLECULAR SYSTEMS, INC., Defendant.
No. C99-01165 WHA.
United States District Court, N.D. California.
October 15, 1999.
C. Robert Boldt, Rick Richmond, and Brian McKeever, Kirkland & Ellis, Los Angeles, CA, for Bayer Corporation.
Charles B. Cohler, Kevin C. McCann, Lasky Haas & Cohler, San Francisco, CA, for Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION BUT IMPOSING PERIODIC DISCOVERY TO MONITOR PROTECTION OF TRADE SECRETS; DENYING CROSS-MOTION TO STRIKE EXPERT DECLARATION; DENYING CROSS-MOTION TO DISMISS
ALSUP, District Judge.INTRODUCTION
This motion for a preliminary injunction presents a conflict between two strong public policies of California — the policy favoring employee mobility free of encumbering restriction and the policy favoring protection of genuine trade secrets. On the present record, the Court concludes that employee mobility must prevail and denies plaintiff's motion to prohibit a former employee from pursuing his trade at a competitor. The theory of "inevitable disclosure" is not the law in California and, at trial, plaintiff will have to demonstrate actual use or disclosure, or actual threat thereof. For the purposes of a preliminary injunction, under California law, the theory of inevitable disclosure does not supply the proof needed to establish a probability of success on the merits nor does it suffice to raise serious questions about actual use or threat. In light of the substantial issues raised concerning actual use in this case and the ongoing risk of trade-secret disclosure, however, the court imposes certain periodic discovery obligations on the defendant and the employee. If this periodic and ongoing discovery reveals misuse of plaintiff's confidential or proprietary information, then plaintiff may renew its request preliminary injunctive relief.STATEMENT
Last February, Pete Betzelos quit his job as HIV Marketing Manager for the World-Wide Marketing Group at Bayer Corporation ("Bayer") to go to work for a competitor, Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.
("Roche"), as its International Marketing Manager, HIV. There is a clear overlap in job responsibilities.
Bayer and Roche both produce and market tests, called viral-load assays, that measure quantities of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in blood samples. Roche manufactures and distributes approximately 70% of the HIV viral-load assays sold throughout the world, and Bayer manufactures and distributes approximately 20 to 25% of the HIV viral-load assays sold throughout the world (Declaration of Dr. Gary T. Ford in Opposition to Bayer's Motion for Preliminary Injunction ("Ford Decl.") ¶ 14). Bayer's tests use bDNA technology. Roche's tests use PCR technology. They are completely different approaches to competing products. Bayer's products include its bDNA HIV 2.0 and 3.0 assays. Bayer's bDNA 3.0 assay is "ultra sensitive," meaning that it has a detection limit at or below 50 copies per milliliter of blood (Declaration of Michael Urdea, Ph.D. ("Urdea Decl.") at ¶¶ 10 & 11). Roche produces and markets a line of assay products under the name Amplicor HIV-1 Monitor (id. at ¶ 8). As part of this line Roche markets an "ultra sensitive" assay known as Amplicor HIV-1 Monitor Ultrasensitive method (id. at ¶ 11).