An Arkansas jury last Friday awarded Cuker Interactive, a California-based digital marketing agency, more than $12 million in damages from Walmart. The jury found that Walmart had misappropriated trade secrets. In addition, the jury awarded Cuker $30,600 in damages for breach of contract and $400,000 for unjust enrichment.
Here’s a roundup of the case from the online legal news site Law360:
The case stems from a January 2014 contract where Wal-Mart agreed to pay Cuker around $577,000 to build a responsive e-commerce website for its Asda Stores Ltd., a brick-and-motor retailer in the United Kingdom that also has online shopping services.
The relationship soured in the months that followed, and Wal-Mart sued for breach of contract. Then Cuker filed counterclaims alleging Wal-Mart didn’t live up to it end of the bargain and stole various trade secrets stemming from the development of the site services.
After a 10-day trial, a jury found Wal-Mart hadn’t proved Cuker breached its contract. But it did find Wal-Mart misappropriated trade secrets in four areas — phased release support technique, a CMS tweak development tool, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop source files and zoning tools — and awarded damages totaling just over $12 million.
The jury found the misappropriation was willful and malicious except for the CMS tweak development tool, according to the verdict.
Statement released by Cuker’s attorney:
The jury made a specific finding that Wal-Mart acted willfully and maliciously in misappropriating Cuker’s responsive e-commerce website technology. The evidence established that Wal-Mart acquired and exported Cuker’s software technology to offshore and lower cost website developers in violation of the parties’ confidentiality obligations.
And from Walmart, which is considering appeal:
We respectfully disagree with the verdict. In our view, the finding and damages awarded are not supported by the facts. We believe the verdict wrongfully holds Walmart responsible for taking the very materials which Cuker transferred or licensed to us under contract. We are considering all options, including an appeal.