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CODA Development S.R.O. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
November 21, 2019
CODA DEVELOPMENT S.R.O, et al., PLAINTIFFS,
GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY, et al., DEFENDANTS.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE SARA LIOI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
November 1, 2019, the Court conducted a status conference
wherein certain discovery disputes were discussed.
(See Doc. Nos. 74, 76.) Following the conference,
the Court issued a non-document minute order ruling in
relevant part, as follows:
First, as to Interrogatory Nos. 1 [and] 2, . . . propounded
by defendants on plaintiffs, by 11/16/2019, plaintiffs will
provide (1) a description of what was said at the meetings in
January and June 2009, and (2) a complete list of the trade
secrets (with particularity) that they claim were orally
disclosed to defendants, including detail as to when
plaintiffs conceived of and developed each of the features in
each trade secret. The Court made clear that additions to
this list at a later time will be permitted only upon showing
of an exceptional reason to do so. . . .
Order 11/1/2019.) The Court also directed counsel to brief
“the issue of whether any description of what was said
at the meetings may be supplemented at a later date or
whether plaintiffs are bound by their written
response.” (Id.) Those briefs have been
submitted. (See Doc. No. 79 [“Defts'
Brief”]; Doc. No. 80 [“Pltfs'
their first amended complaint, plaintiffs explain the
“nature of the action” as follows:
1. This action arises out of Goodyear Tire and Rubber
Co.'s (“Goodyear”) theft of Coda's secret
self-inflating tire [“SIT”] technology. Coda
shared with Goodyear its secret self-inflating tire
technology, including specifically that a self-inflating tire
could be created by embedding a tube in a groove in tire
sidewalls that would act as a peristaltic pump and always
keep the tire properly inflated. Goodyear promised that it
would keep these trade secrets confidential and consider them
solely to evaluate whether it would partner with Coda to
develop Coda's self-inflating tire technology further.
Instead, without Coda's knowledge, Goodyear applied for,
and obtained, numerous patents on self-inflating tire
technology based on Coda's trade secrets and now is about
to introduce to the market it's “Air Maintenance
Technology, ” a self-inflating tire made up of a tube
embedded in a groove in the tire sidewall.
2. At the behest of General Motors (“GM”),
Goodyear and Coda met in January 2009, and again in June 2009
to discuss a potential partnership for commercializing
Coda's SIT technology. GM was interested in using
Coda's SIT technology on the new Chevy Volt. GM suggested
that Goodyear work with Coda to bring Coda's SIT
technology to market because GM believed that Goodyear could
deliver in time for the Volt's anticipated 2010 launch
3. At those two 2009 meetings, and in various communications,
Coda fully educated Goodyear about its SIT technology. This
included SIT technology that Coda had publicly disclosed in
its own patent application filings and issued patents, as
well as Coda's trade secret information that Coda has not
publicly disclosed. Coda provided this information to
Goodyear pursuant to a non-disclosure agreement.
4. At the first meeting in January 2009, among other things,
Coda explained that it had produced a functional prototype,
which generated sufficient pressure to inflate a vehicle
tire. Following that meeting, representatives from Goodyear
emailed Coda to ask for a second meeting so that Goodyear
could perform a “technical readiness evaluation at your
premises in Prague, in order to physically judge the concept
feasibility on-site and to decide whether we will start a
development project or not.” A Goodyear employee named
Robert Benedict, who is a Defendant in this case, wrote
separately to Mr. Hrabal and stated that “Our goal is
to evaluate CODA's Self Inflating Tire technology. We
would like to: View the updated technical presentation[, ]
Review the prototype product[, and] Review testing methods
5. The second meeting occurred in June 2009. And just as Mr.
Benedict requested, Mr. Hrabal showed Goodyear Coda's
prototype at that meeting, along with covering other
subjects, including those other subjects addressed in Mr.
16. Ultimately, Goodyear did not move forward with a joint
development project with Coda. Instead, on December 21, 2009,
Goodyear filed two patent applications, claiming
self-inflating tires based on the principles Mr. Hrabal
shared with Goodyear. The first, United States Application
Serial Number 12/643, 243, claimed a self-inflating tire with
a pump tube in a sidewall groove- an invention that was
conceived by Mr. Hrabal, maintained by Mr. Hrabal as a trade
secret, disclosed to Goodyear under the terms and conditions
of a non-disclosures agreement, and ultimately
misappropriated by Goodyear. (footnote omitted)
17. In the years since, Goodyear has developed an extensive
portfolio of patents on self-inflating tire technologies.
Many of these patents also claim other trade secrets that
were developed by Mr. Hrabal. And Goodyear now stands on the
verge of introducing its self-inflating tire technology to
the world. ...
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