Electronics chain Best Buy will be required to pay $22 million in damages to start-up company TechForward for the improper use of trade secrets, a California jury decided on Wednesday. The company must also pay another $5 million in punitive damages.
California-based TechForward filed its lawsuit against Best Buy in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in 2011. The small start-up claimed that Best Buy misappropriated TechForward's trade secrets relating to TechForward's own "Guaranteed Buyback Program".
According to TechForward, its Guaranteed Buyback Program had been implemented with other national consumer electronics retailers around the country.
"Under the Guaranteed Buyback Program, the consumer electronic retailer's customers pay for the right to redeem newly purchased electronic devices at a future date in exchange for store credit that represents a percentage of the original purchase price that can be used toward the purchase of another device from the retailer," TechForward explained in a press release on Friday.
The lawsuit claimed that after months of working with TechForward to implement the program in Best Buy stores, the electronics retail chain canceled its deal, "misappropriated" TechForward's trade secrets, and launched its own buyback program in February 2011 without TechForward's involvement. Consumers were even introduced to the new buyback program in a Super Bowl ad the month before featuring Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne.
"We are extremely pleased that the jury recognized Best Buy's misconduct, and we hope this verdict puts large companies on notice that there are real consequences to illegally exploiting start-up businesses like ours," stated TechForward's co-founders Jade Van Doren and Marc Lebovitz.
As of this writing, Best Buy had not issued a statement.