ABB Turbo Sys. AG v. TurboUSA, Inc., No. 14-1356 (Fed. Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
ABB designs, produces, and sells exhaust-gas turbochargers and turbocharger parts, primarily for use in large, ocean-going vessels and in power plants. In 2012, ABB filed suit, accusing TurboUSA, Inc., and TurboNed Service B.V. of infringing two of ABB’s turbocharger-related patents. Claiming that the infringement was willful, ABB alleged that its former employee had improperly obtained and transferred to TurboUSA confidential information relating to ABB parts embodying its patented inventions. After filing its original complaint, ABB received information that, it alleges, suggested that Hans Franken, who worked for ABB until 1986 and is TurboNed’s former owner and TurboUSA’s current indirect owner, and his son Willem, who is TurboUSA’s current president, collaborated in the covert misappropriation of ABB’s trade secrets concerning the design, manufacture, servicing, and pricing of ABB’s turbochargers and parts, and added claims of misappropriation of trade secrets under Fla. Stat. 688.001–688.009 and of civil conspiracy to misappropriate trade secrets. Before discovery, the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that the court relied on judgments about the merits that go beyond what is authorized at the complaint stage.