Researchers may have to pay $6.5M in trade secrets case

An arbitrator has awarded Intellectual Ventures more than $6.5 million in attorney’s fees and other costs in a case involving two of the company’s former researchers who were accused of improperly sharing trade secrets.

The ruling by the arbitrator, George Finkle, was issued last month and included in documents filed last week in King County Superior Court by Intellectual Ventures’ attorneys. They’re asking the court to affirm the award and direct entry of judgment. Meanwhile, attorneys for the researchers say they’ll contest Finkle’s award.

Finkle ruled that the two researchers, Fred Sharifi and Rachel Cannara, improperly used confidential information they had developed while working for Intellectual Ventures’ Advanced Physics Lab in Bellevue, Wash.

The information focused on a technology known as cold electron field emission. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where the pair had worked before joining Intellectual Ventures, the technology could be used to create higher-efficiency electron sources for applications ranging from microwave communications and radar systems to X-ray imaging systems.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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