Deer Breeding Registry Gets Injunction in Trade Secrets Case

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

A deer breeding registry won a court order temporarily blocking a genetics lab from using information from the registry’s DNA database ( N. Am. Deer Registry, Inc. v. DNA Sols., Inc. , 2017 BL 186373, E.D. Tex., Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-00062, 6/2/17 ).The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled June 3 that the North American Deer Registry Inc. is likely to win its trade secrets and trademark claims that contractor DNA Solutions Inc. of Oklahoma had kept registry information in violation of their contract. The court ordered DNA Solutions not to use or disclose information in the registry, nor to tell deer semen buyers that it owned the information.

There is a lot of money at stake in the deer-breeding business. An individual buck can be worth up to $1 million, and sperm from a buck can be worth from $5,000 to $20,000, the court said.

According to the website of the North American Deer Farmers Association—one of the registry’s owners—deer farming for livestock and big game hunting generates $3 billion annually in the U.S.

Likelihood of Success

The NADFA and the Texas Deer Association got together to create a unified deer breeding registry in 2007, according to court documents. DNA Solutions was given the contract to create genetic profiles from submitted samples and compare them to other profiles and for other services, including hosting the database.

The registry ended its relationship with DNA Solutions 10 years later and sued, alleging that DNA Solutions had kept and continued to use data belonging to the registry in violation of trade secrets and trademark law, according to the court’s preliminary injunction order.

The court said there was enough evidence in the record to find that the registry was likely to win on its claim that DNA Solutions was misleading consumers “by advertising that it had a database of over 230,000 deer genetic profiles,” and that it would “continue” to provide the same services that it had been providing under contract with the registry.

The court also agreed with the registry that its “member list, deer genetic information, and deer lineages” were its trade secrets, and that DNA Solutions misappropriated those secrets by keeping data that its contract required it to return.

Harms, Benefits Favor Plaintiff

The court decided to issue the injunction after it found that the registry would suffer irreparable harm without one, and that this harm outweighed any harm DNA Solutions would sustain from an injunction if it ended up winning the case after all.

Counsel for the registry declined to comment. DNA Solutions didn’t respond immediately to requests for comments from Bloomberg BNA. A trial in the case has not yet been scheduled.

Siebman Burg Phillips & Smith LLP represented the North American Deer Registry. The National Litigation Law Group PLLC represented DNA Solutions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at AMazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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