Jury Rules for Defendant in $80 Million Perfume Trade Secret Case

After a five week trial, a federal jury in New Jersey found that the fragrance company Mane USA Inc. had not conspired with a former Givaudan Fragrances Corp. perfumer to misappropriate over 600 trade secret Givaudan formulas.

James Krivda was a perfumer with Givaudan who created fragrances such as Celine Dion Enchanting and Britney Spears Fantasy.  He was the vice president of the company’s perfumery division.

Givaudan is the world’s largest fragrance company, with annual revenues over $4 billion.

Krivda left the company in 2008 and joined Mane USA.  Mane’s parent company is Mane SA, which employs 35 people in 30 countries and had sales of $841 million in 2012.

Givaudan claimed that as Krivda was leaving the company he printed out and took with him hundreds of trade secret formulas with the intent to use them at Mane.  Krivda said that he shredded the documents.

Krivda was also accused of taking trade secrets such as “head space” analyses prepared by a Gevaudan perfumer, and gas chromotographies used to analyze products.

Givaudan sued Krivda months after he left, saying that 38 of the stolen formulas appeared as similarly or identically named Mane fragrances.

Givaudan contended that its formulas were worth $80 million and threatened to bring criminal trade theft charges against Krivda.

Krivda and Mane denied the trade secret theft allegations and the ensuing litigation lasted five years.

In October of 2013, Mane obtained a partial summary judgment on Givaudan’s cause of action for computer fraud, since Krivda was authorized to access Givaudan’s proprietary database even though he was not allowed to print documents.

The remaining cases of action were addressed at the jury trial.

According to Krivda’s lawyer, his legal team was able to prove that the formulas Krivda created for Mane were independently developed and not stolen from Givaudan.

Stay up-to-date on the latest Intellectual Property Law news from Sheldon Mak & Anderson.

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