General Nanotechnology, LLC v. Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC – 6/27/2012

General Nanotechnology, LLC v. Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC

No. A129016/A129428 (opn 6/27/2012, rev den 9/12/2012)

Year: 2012
Errors: Facts: Error/Omission
Court: 1st District, Division 5
Errors Found/Argued: Errors not found by another court

Summary: For decades, a program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (“LLNS”) has been trying to use various materials to create the tiny, precise capsules that are critical to the production of energy through fusion. Plaintiffs disclosed proprietary information about diamond technology to LLNS as part of an attempt to obtain a contract from LLNS to produce the capsules out of diamond. LLNS severed relations with plaintiffs in October 2004, claiming there was no funding for their work. Petitioners did not file suit immediately, but did so after discovering facts in July 2007, that led them to believe that LLNS had been using their proprietary information in an attempt to produce diamond capsules with a foreign entity.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary adjudication against plaintiffs on their misappropriation and fraud causes of action, determining that the statute of limitations began to run in November 2004, when one of the plaintiffs saw a document from LLNS regarding diamond capsules. The Court of Appeal found that this document provided notice of the misappropriation claim to plaintiffs, rejecting as “unreasonable” plaintiffs’ testimony that the document referred to LLNS’s former plans to develop diamond capsules with the plaintiffs themselves, not to any attempt to develop diamond capsules with the foreign entity. Testimony from the document’s author confirmed that plaintiff’s interpretation was not only reasonable but correct – the document referred only to LLNS’s former plans to develop the capsules with plaintiffs. The Court of Appeal held that there was no need to consider whether petitioners could have conducted any further investigation into the facts because, using its interpretation, the document by itself provided a sufficient factual basis to file suit immediately.

Document Links:
Court of Appeal Opinion (PDF)
Court of Appeal Opinion (Google Scholar)
Petition for Rehearing
Petition for Review (see pp 15-17, 22-23)