May 31, 2017 – A Federal jury in Palm Beach County, Florida, returned a verdict of $3.7 million in favor of eVestment Alliance LLC, against Compass iTech LLC, on claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, breach of contract and tortious interference.
eVestment discovered that, between 2011 and 2014, Compass – despite having been provided upload-only login credentials by eVestment to complete their authorized data population work – obtained and used the login credentials issued to a paying eVestment client thousands of times to repeatedly gain unauthorized access to eVestment’s analytics system. Compass then used that access to market and sell its services.
Upon discovering Compass’ actions, eVestment terminated all of Compass’ login credentials and advised Compass that it was no longer permitted to access the eVestment database for any reason. Rather than simply complying, Compass filed suit in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging claims for defamation, violation of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and tortious interference. In response, eVestment counterclaimed for violations of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and tortious interference.
In June 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra entered a summary judgment in eVestment’s favor against all of Compass’ claims, finding that “eVestment’s actions in protecting access to its own database were entirely lawful” and that the statements made by eVestment, in what Compass alleged was defamatory correspondence with its clients, were “entirely true,” leaving only eVestment’s counterclaims for trial.
These counterclaims were tried before a jury in early May 2017. At trial, it was shown that Compass’ President, Rick Gagnon, and others at Compass obtained a paying client’s login credentials – despite Compass having its own upload-only credentials – and used the credentials to repeatedly access eVestment’s systems, including hiring another firm to assist in the unauthorized downloading of information on Compass’ behalf.
After deliberations, the jury returned its verdict, finding in eVestment’s favor on all counts. The jury found that Compass acted willfully and maliciously and with an intent to defraud, and found that Compass intentionally interfered with eVestment’s contract with the paying client from whom it obtained the login credentials Compass used for its unauthorized access. The jury awarded eVestment $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $1.2 million in punitive damages.
Jim Minnick, eVestment’s CEO, stated: “The Court’s summary judgment decision and the jury’s verdict represent an overwhelming win for eVestment in this case. It is also a strong vindication of our right to protect our valuable trade secrets and the important information that our clients entrust with us. Finally, this case clearly demonstrates our unwavering resolve to vigorously pursue unauthorized access to our systems – including the misuse of our paying clients’ login credentials – and to simply make it as unattractive as possible for any bad actors looking to misappropriate our intellectual property.”
To read the verdict, please click here.
- June 2014 – eVestment discovers Compass’ unauthorized access to the eVestment database.
- September 2014 – eVestment eliminates Compass’ access to eVestment, communicates with clients about the situation.
- October 6, 2014 – Compass sues eVestment for defamation, violation of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and tortious interference.
- October 22, 2014 – eVestment counterclaims for violations of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and tortious interference.
- June 24, 2016 – U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra enters a summary judgment in eVestment’s favor against all of Compass’ claims.
- May 1-11, 2017 – eVestment claims tried and jury delivers $3.7 million verdict in eVestment’s favor.