Alleged Misappropriation of Trade Secrets in the Bridge Construction Industry

This case study explores a lawsuit involving the alleged misappropriation of trade secrets by former employees in the bridge construction industry.

ByExpert Institute

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Published on February 6, 2024

Bridge construction

Case Overview

This case study examines a lawsuit filed by a leading aluminum bridge company against two former employees who established a competing steel bridge design and fabrication company. There is an alleged misappropriation of trade secrets at the core of the dispute. This is specifically a complex Excel spreadsheet used for detailed cost estimates and appraisals for aluminum bridge projects. These proprietary tools, developed over time with substantial investment, are suspected to have been unlawfully utilized by the defendants.

The suspicion arose when reports generated by the newly formed company bore striking similarities to those produced using the plaintiff’s proprietary tools. This suggested potential intellectual property theft.

Questions to the expert and their responses

Q1

Could you elaborate on your civil engineering background, especially in bridge design and implementation?

I hold a Ph.D. in civil engineering with a specialization in structural engineering and analysis. My career spans over a decade teaching structural analysis and conducting research for various entities including federal, state, and private industry organizations.

Q2

How integral are Excel spreadsheets to your structural analysis and appraisal drafting?

Excel spreadsheets are fundamental to my profession. They serve as the backbone of an engineering company, requiring countless man-hours to create, verify, and recheck.

Q3

In your professional experience, is such information typically considered proprietary to the company overseeing the project?

Yes, calculation spreadsheets like these are often deemed proprietary information due to the extensive time and effort required to develop them.

Q4

Have you ever reviewed a similar case involving potential trade secrets misappropriation?

As an expert in structural analysis with comprehensive Excel knowledge, I am well-equipped to decide whether trade secrets were misappropriated. However, specific details about past cases cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality agreements.

About the expert

This expert boasts over a decade of experience in civil and structural engineering, holding a BS, MS, and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from a renowned university. They are a licensed professional engineer and an active member of several prestigious organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineering and the American Institute of Steel Construction. Their extensive knowledge is reflected in their 31 published journal articles, numerous presentations, and current role as an associate professor of civil engineering and director at a prominent university.

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