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Tang v. Vaxin, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

March 31, 2015

DE CHU CHRISTOPHER TANG, Plaintiff,
v.
VAXIN, INC., and WILLIAM J. ENRIGHT, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, District Judge.

This case is presently pending before the court on the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction by Defendant Vaxin Inc. (Doc. 29.)[1] Plaintiff filed this action against defendants Vaxin Inc. and William J. Enright alleging, among other things, False Claims Act violations, fraud, and breach of contract. ( See Doc. 14.) Defendant Vaxin Inc. filed this Motion for a Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin plaintiff "from using and disclosing Vaxin's intellectual property in violation of an Employee Innovation, Non-Competition and Non-Soliciation Agreement with Vaxin, ... enjoin[] him from making threatening or other communications to Vaxin's directors, officers, shareholders, employees, investors or those otherwise in privity with Vaxin[, ] and... order[] him to sign and file a power of attorney in support of a Korean patent application to prevent its abandonment as required by this agreement." (Doc. 29 at 1.) Upon consideration of the record, the submissions of the parties, and the relevant law, the court is of the opinion that defendant's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, (Doc. 29), is due to be denied.

I. PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION STANDARD

"The purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held." Univ. of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981). "A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy; it is never awarded as of right." Munaf v. Geren, 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Further, granting a preliminary injunction "is the exception rather than the rule." Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir. 2000) (quoting Texas v. Seatrain Int'l, S.A., 518 F.2d 175, 179 (5th Cir. 1975)). "In each case, courts must balance the competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of the requested relief." Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (internal quotations and citations omitted). In this Circuit -

In order to prevail on an application for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff must clearly establish all of the following requirements:
(1)... a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) irreparable injury will be suffered unless the injunction issues; (3) the threatened injury to the movant outweighs whatever damage the proposed injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) if issued, the injunction would not be adverse to the public interest.

Bloedorn v. Grube, 631 F.3d 1218, 1229 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Civil Liberties Union of Fla., Inc. v. Miami-Dade Cnty. Sch. Bd., 557 F.3d 1177, 1198 (11th Cir. 2009). "In exercising their sound discretion, courts of equity should pay particular regard for the public consequences in employing the extraordinary remedy of injunction." Winter, 555 U.S. at 24 (quoting Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305, 312 (1982)).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

During his employment with Vaxin, plaintiff signed an Employee Innovation, Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation Agreement ("the Agreement"), ( see Doc. 29-1 at 18), which defendant explains as follows:

Under the Agreement, Plaintiff agreed that all "Proprietary Information, " as defined by the Agreement, was the sole property of Vaxin and that Vaxin was, and would be, the sole and exclusive owner of all patents, copyrights, mass works, trade secrets and other rights in any "Proprietary Information." Plaintiff also assigned to Vaxin any and all rights, title and interest that he had, or might acquire, in any "Proprietary Information" and agreed not to disclose or use such information without Vaxin's consent except as necessary to perform his regular duties as an employee of Vaxin. Paragraph 2 of the Agreement sets forth these agreements:
2. Ownership and Nondisclosure of Proprietary Information. All Proprietary Information is the sole property of Vaxin, Vaxin's assigns and Vaxin's customers. Vaxin, Vaxin's assigns and Vaxin's customers will be the sole and exclusive owner of all patents, copyrights, mask works, trade secrets and other rights in the Proprietary Information. I hereby do and will assign to Vaxin all rights, title, and interest I may have or acquire in the Proprietary Information. At all times, both during my employment by Vaxin and after termination of such employment, I will keep in confidence and trust all Proprietary Information, and I will not use or disclose any Proprietary Information or anything directly relating to Proprietary Information without the written consent of Vaxin, except as may be necessary in the ordinary course of performing my duties as an employee of Vaxin.
Further, under the Agreement, Plaintiff agreed to assign, and did in fact assign, to Vaxin all of his right, title and interest in any and all "Innovations, " as defined by the Agreement, as well as any associated intellectual property rights that he might solely or jointly conceive, reduce to practice, create, derive, develop or make during his employment with Vaxin. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Agreement set forth these agreements:
4. Innovations. As used in this Agreement, the terms "Innovations" means all processes, machines, manufactures, compositions of matter, improvements, inventions (whether or not protectable under patent laws), works of authorship, information fixed in any tangible medium of expression (whether or not protectable under copyright laws), moral rights, mask works, trademarks, trade names, trade dress, trade secrets, know-how, ideas (whether or not protectable under trade secret laws), and all other subject matter protectable under patent, copyright, moral right, mask work, trademark, trade secret, or other laws.
5. Assignment of Innovations. I hereby agree promptly to disclose and describe to Vaxin, and I hereby do and will assign to Vaxin or Vaxin's designee my entire right, title, and interest in and to each of the Innovations, and any associated property rights, which I may solely or jointly conceive, reduce to practice, create, derive, develop, or make during the period of my employment with Vaxin, which either (a) relate, at the time of conception, reduction to practice, creation, derivation, development, or making of such Innovation, to Vaxin's business or actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development, or (b) were developed on any amount ...

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