Judge throws out Vertical Bridge’s trade secret lawsuit against Everest Infrastructure in Pennsylvania

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

Vertical Bridge

VERTICAL BRIDGE  CLAIMED IN 2023 that Everest Infrastructure stole their leasing trade secrets. Earlier this month, Everest claimed that the information they used was readily available and not a trade secret. A Pennsylvania judge last week tossed out the lawsuit.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Vertical Bridge REIT, LLC and its subsidiaries against Everest Infrastructure Partners, Inc. The lawsuit, which included allegations of trade secret misappropriation, violations of the Lanham Act, and other claims, was dismissed without prejudice by Judge W. Scott Hardy.

Vertical Bridge initially filed the lawsuit on June 8, 2023, accusing Everest of unfair business practices in the telecommunications infrastructure industry. The plaintiff alleged that Everest misappropriated trade secrets, engaged in false advertising under the Lanham Act, and interfered with contractual and prospective business relations.

Vertical Bridge, which owns and manages telecommunications towers across the United States, claimed that Everest had unlawfully orchestrated a scheme to gain market share at their expense. They asserted that Everest’s practices involved misappropriating confidential pricing and contract information to undercut their business dealings with property owners.

Judge Hardy’s memorandum opinion, issued on May 23, 2024, addressed several key issues in the case. The court concluded that Vertical Bridge’s claims were insufficiently pleaded under the Lanham Act and for trade secret misappropriation.

Regarding the Lanham Act claim, Judge Hardy noted that Vertical Bridge failed to demonstrate that Everest made false or misleading statements about goods or services. The court found that the allegations were too vague and did not provide specific instances of false advertising.

The court’s thorough evaluation of the trade secret misappropriation claims under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act (PUTSA) concluded that Vertical Bridge did not adequately specify the trade secrets they sought to protect. The complaint lacked the necessary detail to establish that the information was indeed protectable as a trade secret and that reasonable measures were taken to maintain its secrecy. This finding is crucial for all parties involved to understand the court’s decision.

The court found unpersuasive Everest’s argument that Vertical Bridge’s rent terms cannot be trade secrets unless they were developed with confidential formulae and that Vertical Bridge will struggle to make such a showing with respect to their inherited contracts because it’s not apparent from the amended complaint that their predecessors employed any trade-secret-protected formulae for setting rent terms.

The dismissal without prejudice presents an opportunity for Vertical Bridge to amend its complaint, addressing the deficiencies identified by the court.