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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Simmental Association

Published on 23 September 2014

A federal district judge in Colorado has dismissed a lawsuit filed by seedstock producer Leachman Cattle of Colorado against the American Simmental Association (ASA) that alleged patent infringement for a calculator providing economic values on commercial calves.

Judge R. Brooke Jackson, district judge for Colorado, dismissed the case on Aug. 29 after determining the court had no personal jurisdiction over the ASA as it related to the plaintiffs’ claims.

“Few if any factual allegations have been made that would support a finding that ASA’s actions took place in or were purposefully aimed at the state of Colorado,” Jackson wrote. “The court cannot therefore assert personal jurisdiction over ASA in connection to these federal claims.”

Leachman, owned by Lee Leachman of Wellington, Colorado, and Verified Beef, the Bozeman, Montana-based licensee for Leachman’s patented calculator, filed the suit April 11 against ASA in Colorado’s federal court. The Simmental Association, like Verified Beef, is headquartered in Bozeman.

Leachman and Verified Beef alleged the ASA had committed a trade secret misappropriation, and interfered with prospective business relations, when it began duplicating Leachman and Verified Beef’s method for assessing value on a group of calves.

Leachman’s calculator method was granted a patent in February 2014. The plaintiffs argued that in discussions before the patent was granted, the ASA entered confidentiality agreements not to use the calculator for any competitive purposes.

The ASA disputes the confidentiality agreement claim and defended its development of a competing calculating profit method, saying the technology to do so was developed within the public domain – not exclusively by Leachman and Verified Beef.

The lawsuit stirred discussion among breed associations at this year’s Beef Improvement Federation and led to a proposed resolution from the National Association of Animal Breeders opposing Leachman’s patent for “publicly available and widely utilized technologies.”

Jackson dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs can file the action again.  end mark

—Written by Progressive Cattleman staff