Pharmaceutical Company Sues Former Employee For Stealing Trade Secrets

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. filed suit against defendant and former employee Gerardo Caraballo on Wednesday in the Northern District of California. The complaint for injunctive relief also seeks damages for things such as federal trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract.

BioMarin is a “leading biotechnology company focused on researching, developing, manufacturing, and selling a variety of therapies for rare genetic diseases.” The plaintiff continually invests significant time and resources into developing treatments, making their databases invaluable to competitors. BioMarin requires their employees, like defendant Caraballo to sign confidentiality agreements in addition to implementation of technological and physical access restrictions.

The plaintiff is accusing the defendant of engaging in the “unlawful download and transfer of over 1,800 files” that contained the trade secrets and confidential information of the plaintiff. Caraballo uploaded this information onto a personal USB device, an intricate plan the plaintiff asserts he “plotted and commenced execution of… to unfairly compete and cause BioMarin devastating harm, in aid of his new position at BioMarin’s competitor.”

Caraballo was previously employed by the plaintiff as a Senior Automation Validation QA Engineer, a role through which he had nearly unbridled access to BioMarin’s trade secrets and confidential information. Upon ending his employment with the plaintiff, Caraballo agreed not to retain any written or electronic material that contained compromising trade secrets or confidential information in his Cessation of Employment Certificate, specifically information he had on his company-issued laptop.

Despite these agreements, BioMarin’s systems noticed a large download on Caraballo’s computer before he turned it in, even though Caraballo had “no legitimate business purpose to be downloading and transferring these files to an external device.” When the plaintiff confronted Caraballo about it, he purportedly said he had only downloaded his personal tax returns. Only upon further questioning did Caraballo admit that he was joining one of BioMarin’s principal gene therapy competitors, Sangamo Therapeutics, the complaint said.

BioMarin maintains that if their confidential information and trade secrets are to be weaponized by the defendant, it would cause them irreparable harm. The complaint cites counts of misappropriation of trade secrets under the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, breach of California Uniform Trade Secret Act, breach of contract, and violation of California codes. BioMarin is seeking favorable judgement on all counts, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief that prohibits any use of the illegally downloaded information, actual, compensatory, exemplary, and punitive damages.

The plaintiff is represented by Reed Smith LLP.