Refresco Beverages Survives Motion to Dismiss in Trade Secrets Case

Yesterday, Judge Clay D. Land of the Middle District of Georgia issued an order partially granting and partially denying defendants Califormulations, LLC et. al.’s motion to dismiss against Refresco Beverages US Inc.

The plaintiff, Refresco, is a successor-in-interest to Cott Beverages LLC, according to the opinion. The company “formulates, produces, manufactures, packages, and distributes beverages and concentrates in the United States.” Symrise Inc. formed Califormulations, LLC as a “beverage incubator.” Several employees of Cott allegedly departed the company and joined Califormulations after they used Cott’s trade secrets to help benefit Califormulations, including high level executives with intimate knowledge of the company and industry.

According to the document, Symrise contacted several Cott employees to discuss “the possibility of creating a new beverage company […] founded by ‘beverage industry insiders with deep sector experience.’” The employees in question “deliberately” withheld this information to Cott superiors “for the benefit of Symrise.” 

The court examined the plaintiff’s and defendants’ claims, and determined that Refresco “sufficiently” argued that the formula should be Cott’s (and therefore Refresco’s) property. Furthermore, the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signed by Symrise and Cott, which was solely for a potential business relation between these companies, does not protect the defendants from claims of misappropriation. As a result, Symrise breached their NDA with Cott, as well as its individual employees. Furthermore, Symrise “knowingly participated and encouraged” the individuals to breach their contracts. However, the court concluded that “Refresco’s conversion, Georgia RICO, Georgia computer theft and trespass, Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and civil conspiracy claims are dismissed.”

The plaintiff is represented by The Finley Firm P.C. 

The defendants are represented by Waldrep, Mullin & Callahan, LLC.