Miller UK Ltd. v. Caterpillar, Inc.

10-cv-03770
June 17, 2010
Federal Court
7th Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

In Miller UK Ltd. v. Caterpillar, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held on April 26, 2012 that the Illinois Trade Secrets Act, 765 ILCS §1065/1 et seq., preempted only common law claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and did not preempt unjust enrichment and fraudulent inducement claims involving misappropriated information that did not constitute trade secrets. In its ruling, the district court refused to follow an Illinois Appeals Court decision in Pope v. Alberto-Culver Co., 26 Ill. App. 3d 512 (1st Dist. 1998), which held that the Act preempted both common law claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information that did not rise to the level of trade secrets. The district court found that the Appeals Court in Pope failed to address §1065/8(b)(2), which provided that the Act would not affect “other civil remedies that are not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret.” The Illinois Supreme Court had not ruled yet on whether the Act preempted claims involving misappropriated confidential information that did not constitute trade secrets. But the district court was confident that the State’s highest court would have also, at least, declined to follow Pope.

Miller UK, Ltd. (“Miller”), a supplier of parts for construction and mining equipment, filed its claims for misappropriation against Caterpillar, Inc. (“Caterpillar”) on June 17, 2010. Miller’s claims arise from a 1999 supply agreement to supply parts to Caterpillar for its machines. During this relationship, Miller disclosed to Caterpillar its trade secrets and confidential information about the design, manufacture, and testing of Miller’s coupler technology. Miller asserted that the disclosed information was subject to confidentiality requirements in the supply agreement. Caterpillar, however, allegedly took the information and used it to design its own parts.

Miller UK Ltd.
Caterpillar, Inc.
Uniform Trade Secrets Act