Chassis manufacturer accuses distributor of violating trade secrets

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 21, 2010, 7:21am

SHERMAN-A trailer chassis manufacturer is accusing a construction equipment distributor of misappropriating trade secrets after the distributor found a cheaper manufacturer.

Techsys Chassis Inc. filed a lawsuit against Multiquip Inc. on April 16 in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Plaintiff Techsys Chassis is a Texas-based, family-owned business offering custom designed trailer chassis for portable construction equipment, equipment rental fleets and aircraft ground support.

Defendant Multiquip makes and supplies light to medium construction equipment, power generators and lighting.

According to the lawsuit, the defendant approached Techsys Chassis in late 2004 about engineering a redesign of the chassis for Multiquip's MQ trailer models used for portable generators.

By late 2005, the parties were under a "vendor partnership" in which Techsys Chassis would provide the engineering services and drawings to the defendant at no charge, the suit states.

In lieu of payment, the defendant agreed to use the plaintiff as its vendor for the redesigned trailer chassis for the life of the products, according to the complaint.

Techsys claims that drafts of proposed confidentiality agreements were exchanged, however none were signed.

Then, according to the complaint, Multiquip's business had drastically slowed by 2009 and it was looking to reduce its costs. In January 2010, the defendant announced it had found a lower cost manufacturer to replace Techsys Chassis.

Techsys claims it warned Multiquip that it had no right to the engineering drawings it had provided.

The plaintiff alleges the defendant has provided the replacement vendor with Techsys' confidential and trade secret drawings in violation of the agreements and the confidential relationship between the parties.

Techsys asserts claims against Multiquip for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, quantum meruit, misappropriation of trade secrets, unjust enrichment and copyright infringement.

The plaintiff is asking the court for actual damages, exemplary damages, attorney's fees and a permanent injunction restraining the defendant from further acts of trade secret misappropriation and copyright infringement.

Dallas attorneys Darin M. Klemchuk, Katherine B. Brandy and Roxana Sullivan of Klemchuk Kubasta LLP are representing the Techsys.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the litigation.

Case No 4:10cv00193

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