Topic: Confidential Material

Director’s Breach of Contract Lawsuit Found to Violate the Underlying Contract’s Confidentiality Clause

By: David Forney and Benjamin Kendall

In Cappella Holdings, LLC v. Anderson, C.A. No. 9809-VCS (Del. Ch. Nov. 29, 2017), the Chancery Court dismissed a director’s breach of contract claims against his former employer relating to alleged violations of an anti-dilution provision in his employment agreement.  The Court instead found that the director’s initial complaint, which included highly sensitive information about the company, violated the confidentiality provision of the underlying contract on which his claims were based.

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Chancery Court Finds Unqualified Inspection Right in Statutory Trust Agreement Renders Default Preconditions and Defenses Inapplicable

By: Scott Waxman and Eric Jay

In Grand Acquisition LLC v. Passco Indian Springs DST, C.A. No. 12003-VCMR (Del. Ch. Aug. 26, 2016) the Delaware Court of Chancery found that under the Delaware Statutory Trust Act (the “Act”), the governing instrument of a Delaware statutory trust (DST) does not need to affirmatively disavow the preconditions and defenses applicable to inspection rights related to a DST’s books and records under Section 3819 of the Act in order to create a separate and distinct contractual right that can, in some circumstances, render statutory preconditions and defenses inapplicable to such requests. Read More

Fight Between Two Chemical Giants Continues: Akzo Nobel’s Claim of IP Misappropriation against Dow Chemical Survives Motion to Dismiss

By Holly Vance and Stephanie S. Liu

In Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc. v. The Dow Chemical Company, the Delaware Court of Chancery decided a dispute between two chemical companies that were parties to a joint development agreement. Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc. (“Akzo”) alleged, among other things, that The Dow Chemical Company, doing business as Dow Advanced Materials (“Dow”), wrongfully misappropriated intellectual property that belonged in part or in whole to Akzo and breached their joint development agreement. Dow moved to dismiss pursuant to Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(6). The Court granted the motion in part and denied in part. Specifically, Akzo’s claims for declaratory judgment and breach of contract survived, but its alternative claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion, and unjust enrichment were dismissed.

Akzo specializes in the design, manufacture, and sale of various chemical coatings, including protective coatings for food and beverage packaging and containers. Dow develops, manufactures, and sells polymeric materials, products, and technologies, including those suitable for use in coatings for food and beverage containers. In January of 2010, the parties executed a Joint Development Agreement (“JDA”) to combine the parties’ respective areas of expertise in pursuit of the development of new protective coatings for metal food and beverage packaging containers. Depending on the resulting invention, any given project under the JDA could either be wholly owned by one of the two parties or jointly owned. Dow terminated the JDA in October of 2011, and then communicated to Akzo in May of 2012 that it intended to file two patent applications relating to potential JDA inventions. In June of 2013, Akzo filed its complaint, asserting claims for: (1) a declaratory judgment regarding Akzo’s ownership rights under the JDA; (2) breach of contract and a permanent and mandatory injunction against Dow; (3) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (4) conversion; and (5) unjust enrichment. The Court reviewed the complaint under the reasonable “conceivability” standard, the governing pleading standard in Delaware to survive a motion to dismiss, which asks whether there is a “possibility” of recovery.

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Jefferson v. Dominion Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 8663-VCN (September 24, 2014) (Noble, V.C.)

By Jamie Bruce and Carty Bibee

On September 24, 2014, Vice Chancellor Noble issued his opinion in Jefferson v. Dominion Holdings, Inc., a matter involving a dispute between a corporation and one of its stockholders over the scope, and attendant confidentiality concerns, in the stockholder’s inspection of the books and records of the corporation under 8 Del. C. § 220.

The Court concluded after trial that the plaintiff stockholder Jefferson (“Plaintiff Stockholder”) demonstrated that valuing his stock in defendant Dominion Holdings, Inc. (“Defendant Corporation”) was a proper purpose for his requested inspection.  In this Order, Vice Chancellor Noble addressed two issues: (1) the scope of the production of books and records and (2) the confidentiality concerns of Defendant Corporation.

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