Verizon Media Group Sued for Trade Secret Theft

Investment Science LLC brought numerous Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and similar state law claims against Verizon Communications Inc., and several of its subsidiaries (collectively referred to as Verizon Media Group) last week. The Southern District of New York complaint accuses two of the defendants’ high-level employees of stealing and misappropriating confidential information during two 2017 meetings.

According to the filing, the defendants offer Yahoo Finance Premium, “a web-based subscription service that provides Verizon Media Group’s paying customers access to what it describes as ‘actionable data and advanced tools for investors to trade with confidence.’” Reportedly, Verizon Media Group launched the product in June 2019 as an upgrade users could purchase for an introductory fee of $34.99 per month. Once Verizon Media Group made this announcement, Investment Science became aware of the supposed theft.

The plaintiff contends that the defendants stole “substantial and valuable elements of Yahoo Finance Premium from Investment Science in December 2017.” Several business meetings came about because Verizon Media Group was allegedly interested in developing new Yahoo Finance products through a partnership with Investment Science.

In the initial meeting, one of Investment Science’s principals met with a high-ranking Verizon Media Group employee who was reportedly a friend. In the first meeting, the Verizon Media Group representative described a concept for a product the company was hoping to develop incorporating a proprietary data set. The Investment Science principal responded and disclosed that the company “had already developed – over the previous 16 years – a product that did what Verizon Media Group wanted for Yahoo Finance, and more.”

The head of Verizon Media Group’s product development department agreed to meet and the three did so six days later. According to the filing, “all participants understood that the information exchanged during that meeting was confidential and proprietary to the respective parties, and was to be used only for the purpose of evaluating a possible transaction between Investment Science and Verizon Media Group.”

During the second discussion, the Investment Science principal allegedly “presented the confidential and proprietary details of the Investment Science product; the presentation included descriptions of data sources and methods, algorithms, and analytical concepts.” Specifically, he spoke about the plaintiff’s product which “incorporates over a dozen different data elements that are not present in algorithms that had been created previously, assigns scores to those data elements, and then uses those scores to rank and evaluate publicly-traded stocks.”

After that meeting, Investment Science said they never heard from the defendants. The complaint charged Verizon Media Group with the acquisition of trade secrets by improper means, and the unauthorized use of trade secrets in violation of federal law. The plaintiff also brings state law claims for unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, ideas, skills, and expenditures, and for the defendants’ unjust enrichment. Investment Science is seeking a permanent injunction blocking Verizon Media Group from further using its proprietary information and monetary damages, among other requests.

The plaintiff is represented by Albert PLLC.