A more than two-year legal dispute over trade secrets has hit a milestone, Farmobile announced Friday, as a federal judge dismissed all claims against the Leawood-based farm data firm.
“We welcome the court’s decision. Truth won out and justice was served,” said Jason Tatge, CEO of Farmobile. “Farmobile takes great pride in the development of its technology and respects the intellectual property rights of others. This judgment vindicates our strategy of innovation over litigation. The U.S. District Court of Nebraska could find no facts to back the claims made by Farmers Edge.”
Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Farmers Edge (FEI) had alleged Farmobile co-founders Tatge, Heath Gerlock and Randy Nuss, former employees of a company acquired by FEI, had misappropriated purportedly proprietary information.
“In our view, the suit seems to be designed to thwart our business model,” Tatge said in a 2016 statement. “Farmobile makes it possible for farmers to license their agronomic and machine data to vetted third parties on their own terms. We believe this has become an important step in protecting farmers’ rights and data worldwide.”
The district court granted summary judgment in Farmobile’s favor Thursday, relating to all 12 claims leveled by FEI.
“After extensive discovery, including the production of hundreds of thousands of documents and deposition testimony of over 40 witnesses, U.S. District Judge Joseph Batallion granted Farmobile’s summary judgment motion and denied all FEI’s allegations,” Farmobile said in a press release.
The court noted there was no proof that Farmobile co-founders were hired to “invent a specific device, system or method” which “eventually became the Farmobile ‘767 patent application.”
The ruling validates Farmobile’s commitment to responsible innovation and a respect of others’ intellectual property, a company representative said.
Tatge thanked his co-founders, legal team, staff, customers, investors, channel partners and friends for their support.
“We never wanted this fight,” he said. “We aim to work with everyone to strengthen the entire digital agricultural economy by making farmer-owned data standardized and interoperable. We look forward to continuing to execute and grow this important strategy.”
Farmobile’s counterclaims remain pending for trial, which is set to begin May 21. The trial will likely be significantly shorter than originally expected as a result of this ruling, the company said.