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MVS secures reversal in summary judgmentMarch 2, 2006

On Feb. 22, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a summary judgment order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in the case of Hicklin Engineering v. R.J. Bartell and R.J. Bartell and Associates after finding that there remained a question of fact for the jury on Hicklin’s Breach of Implied Contract and Trade Secret Misappropriation claims.R.J. Bartell worked at Axi-Line Precision Products in Wisconsin as a computer aided draftsman from 1993 to 2000. Axi-Line is in the business of building transmission testing equipment. Hicklin Engineering, an Iowa-based firm bought out Axi-Line in 1998. In 2000, shortly after the firm merger, Bartell left Axi-Line and started his own competing company. In his new business, Bartell offered a transmission testing device which was developed using drawings he prepared while working with Axi-Line. In its lawsuit filed in 2000, Hicklin claims that these drawings contain Hicklin’s proprietary trade secret information including tolerances, dimensions and specifications for material, and that Bartell breached an implied contract of confidentially when he misappropriated this trade secret information to use in his competing business. On summary judgment, the district court found in favor for Bartell and dismissed Hicklin’s lawsuit after concluding that Bartell was under no duty of confidentiality to Hicklin/Axi-Line. Hicklin appealed asserting that the district court applied an incorrect summary judgment standard. ‘On summary judgment, the court is not supposed to determine facts, but rather to decide if there are any questions of fact to be determined by the jury,’ explains

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