United States District Court, D. Nevada
PROTECTION TECHNOLOGIES, Inc. Plaintiff,
KENNETH RIBLER, Defendant.
HICKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is plaintiff Protection Technologies, Inc.'s
(“Protech”) application for a temporary
restraining order and order to show cause as to why a
preliminary injunction should not be issued. ECF No. 04. The
application also moves the court to order expedited
discovery. Protech has filed a verified complaint (ECF No. 1)
and served Ribler with a copy of the instant application.
action involves an alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.
Protech is a Nevada corporation based in Sparks, Nevada, which
employed defendant Kenneth Ribler as a regional sales manager
until his termination on February 16, 2017. ECF No. 1 ¶
1-2, 7. Protech alleges that Ribler, during the early morning
hours of the following day, exported Protech's
“confidential, proprietary, and trade secret documents
and information” from its customer-management system.
Id. at ¶ 26. Ribler allegedly downloaded the
information to a private drive and emailed the information
from his company email account to himself-presumably to his
personal email account. Id. at ¶ 14, 26-27.
Protech also claims that Ribler deleted the emails from his
company account, asserting that he was attempting to conceal
his conduct. Id. at ¶ 26.
alleges that, in his position as regional sales manager,
Ribler “had access to substantial confidential Protech
information related to [its] customers, products, margins,
profit percentages and markets, and the products [its]
customers purchased.” Id. at ¶ 15. During
his employment, Ribler “helped Protech generate,
develop, compile and analyze, substantial information
concerning each customer, including their product
preferences, buying patterns, credit profiles, customer
invoices and pricing, customer practices, margins and profit
variances, and the exact amount and type of business
transactions with each customer.” Id. at
¶ 16. Protech alleges this was the information that
Ribler misappropriated on February 17, 2017, and that the
data “is confidential Protech data and information, not
available to competitors and others, and constitutes [its]
trade secrets.” Id. at ¶ 18. It further
asserts that “[a] competitor who had access to this
data and analysis would have an unfair competitive advantage
that could enable them, for example, to use Protech's own
data and analysis, to underprice [its] price quotations, and
to better service and divert customers.” Id.
at ¶ 21.
Protech alleges that it took “significant steps to
protect its confidential and proprietary information[, ]
including requiring that employees sign confidentially and
nondisclosure agreements and by only enabling its employees
to gain access to the data through password-protected entry
points. Id. at ¶ 22-23, 48. Ribler was subject
to the company's confidentiality agreement. Id.
at ¶ 12-13, 48.
filed suit on March 7, 2017, alleging violations of the
Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 1836 et seq., and Nevada's codification
of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”), NRS
600A.010 et seq., as well as other Nevada common-law
Temporary restraining order
requests that the court issue an order enjoining Ribler from
“destroying documents and other evidence; exploiting or
disclosing Protech's trade secret and other confidential
information; violating his confidentiality obligations to
Protech; or soliciting business from Protech's customers
whose accounts he had access to while at Protech and whose
information he downloaded immediately after he was terminated
from Protech.” ECF No. 4 at 10.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b), a court may issue a
temporary restraining order (“TRO”). In order to
grant the TRO, the plaintiff must show that (1) irreparable
harm will likely occur to the plaintiff absent an injunction,
(2) the balance of equities favors the plaintiff, (3) an
injunction is in the public's interest, and (4) the
plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits. See Winter
v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20
(2008) (citations omitted). The court finds that Protech has
satisfied its burden and will therefore issue a TRO, set a
hearing on a preliminary injunction, and request related
argues that it will suffer irreparable harm if, absent an
injunction, Ribler was to disclose the data he allegedly
misappropriated from Protech to one of the company's
competitors. ECF No. 4 at 10. It argues that this will grant
a competitor an unfair advantage and ultimately lead to a
loss of customers and revenue. Id. The court agrees
and finds that the act of downloading company data
immediately after termination, especially when coupled with
attempts to hide these acts, indicates an intent to use this
data against the company's interests.
Protech has established that it is likely to succeed on the
merits of its DTSA and Nevada Trade Secrets Act claims. Both
statutes create causes of action for the misappropriation of
trade secrets when the owner of the information took
reasonable measures to secure that information. At this
stage, the court is satisfied that the customer data that
Ribler allegedly downloaded constitutes a trade secret.
See 18 U.S.C. § 1839(2) (defining a trade
secret as “all forms and types of financial, business .
. . information, including patterns, plans, compilations, ...
methods, techniques, processes . . . if . . . the information
derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from
not being generally known to, and not being readily
ascertainable through proper means by, another person who can
obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the
information”); Nev. Rev. Stat. § 600A.030(5)
(defining trade secret similarly); MAI Sys. Corp. v. Peak
Computer, Inc., 991 F.2d 511, 521 (9th Cir. 1993)
(holding that a company's customer database was a trade
secret under California's codification of the UTCA).
Moreover, the court finds that Protech took reasonable
measures to keep this information secure by requiring
employees to sign confidentiality agreements and limiting
access to the data to password-protected entry points.
See MAI Sys., 991 F.2d at 521.
the court finds that the final two prongs are met. The
balance of equities is in favor of Protech because the TRO
will not feasibly harm any of Ribler's interests, and
there is a strong public interest in protecting trade
secrets, as evidenced by the existence of ...