For the second time in less than a year, Ultimax Cement and Hassan Kunbargi have lost a major court battle against CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp. and Edward K. Rice.
In 2006, Ultimax Cement and Hassan Kunbargi filed suit in California Superior Court against CTS and its Chairman, Edward K. Rice, alleging unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets. The suit was a follow-up to a 2002 patent infringement case brought and lost by Ultimax, alleging that CTS had infringed three of its patents and stolen its trade secrets. In a January 2008 ruling, the District Court had invalidated all three Ultimax patents and concluded that Ultimax failed to demonstrate the very existence of a trade secret.
The suit in Superior Court of California centered once again around Ultimax's contention that CTS had misappropriated the same trade secret, namely the combination of lithium carbonate and citric acid in rapid-setting calcium sulfoaluminate cements. Ultimax asked the court for monetary damages against CTS.
In a Statement of Decision that adopted CTS's positions, the Honorable Judge Jon M. Mayeda found that after losing their Federal patent infringement case, Ultimax and Kinbargi could not repackage their claim into an unfair competition action in California. Judge Mayeda also ruled that CTS did not misappropriate any of Ultimax trade secrets, pointing out that the combination of lithium carbonate and citric acid was known in the industry well before Ultimax claimed to have developed it. He also found that Ultimax had not maintained its alleged secret in confidence. Finally, he found that Ultimax and Kunbargi did not even use the alleged formula that was the crux of their case.
Judge Mayeda denied Ultimax and Kunbargi any monetary relief, stating that "even though Ultimax always had the ability to sell its cement and always had access to the formula (which as noted above, they did not follow), Ultimax was never able to earn a profit."