Sunstein LLP is pleased to announce that it has obtained a favorable judgment confirming the results of its jury verdict for Benchmark Technologies, Inc., a leading international supplier of test reticles, photomasks, and related services for lithography systems (including in the semiconductor industry), as well as of fabrication of grating-based products such as high precision gratings and phase masks, in a year-long trade secret defense matter argued at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
In Benchmark Technologies, Inc. v. Yuqiang Tu and Kifonix Technology, LLC, Benchmark asserted that its former senior applications engineer, defendant Yuqiang (Richard) Tu, resigned to form a competing business and, among other misconduct, misappropriated five categories of trade secrets— valuable Benchmark intellectual property that gives the company a distinct competitive advantage in the market. Richard Tu and Lijun (Jenny) Luo are the Mangers of Kifonix.
Benchmark filed suit promptly after learning that defendant Richard Tu planned to use Benchmark’s trade secrets and confidential information, which the Richard Tu helped to develop while at Benchmark, to start his own business. Benchmark was able to quickly shut down the defendants’ illegal activity with a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
The Sunstein team—led by Partner and Litigation Practice Chair Lisa M. Tittemore and including attorneys Bryan D. Harrison and Jackie Salwa—successfully argued, at summary judgment and trial, that Benchmark had taken reasonable steps to protect these five categories of trade secrets, and that the defendants had misappropriated Benchmark’s trade secrets and confidential information. The team also proved that the defendants breached contractual obligations and fiduciary duties owed to Benchmark. In doing so, the court, at summary judgment, and the jury, at trial in January 2023, found that the defendants engaged in unfair methods of competition.
“It was a privilege to assist Benchmark in achieving this result. We were thrilled with the jury’s findings, said Tittemore. “Our client, Benchmark, takes the value of their trade secrets very seriously, and after an intense, expedited pursuit to defend them, the team is quite pleased with the results.”
Judge Sorokin entered a final decision on May 30, 2023. Among other things, the Court’s order on Benchmark’s application for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs awarded Benchmark an impressive $940,706 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
The Court’s order explained that “Benchmark has met the requirements for an award of attorneys’ fees. It has obtained a permanent injunction. At summary judgement, the Court found that Defendants had engaged in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts of practices in violation of Chapter 93A” and the jury similarly found that Tu and Kifonix had engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Chapter 93A. Indeed, the Court observed in its order granting a permanent injunction that “Tu’s conduct was brazen and willful.”
Attorneys’ fees and costs are rarely awarded in matters like this, but our team believed that the manner in which harm was inflicted on Benchmark made attorneys' fees more likely and thus, worth pursuing. We are gratified that Judge Sorokin responded by awarding attorneys’ fees and costs of almost a million dollars and entering a permanent injunction limiting the defendants’ future activity,” noted Sunstein Founding Partner, Bruce Sunstein.