The Secret of Nooks and Crannies

Submitted by patentadmin on Wed, 02/03/2010 - 09:49

We have just come across another one of those cases which cry out to be the subject of a blog or perhaps a TV sitcom, involving as it does Bimbo Bakeries and the secret of the special “nooks and crannies.” (Bimbo Bakeries USA v. Botticella)

Mr. Botticella is a long-term employee of Bimbo Bakeries (proposed company slogan, “Our Products Are Baked By Bimboes”). While we had assumed that Thomas’ English Muffins were baked by someone named Thomas, it turns out that they are actually baked by Bimbo Bakeries, at a California facility managed by Mr. Botticella. According to Bimbo, Mr. Botticella is one of fewer than ten (10) people in the whole world who know how to make the muffins with the highly advertised special “nooks and crannies.”

On January 4, Mr. Botticella announced his resignation (I will no longer be a Bimbo?). Shortly thereafter, rumors began spreading that he was leaving to take a position at Hostess Brands Inc., themselves owners of the secret formula for the mysterious white goop that fills Twinkies. When confronted, Mr. Botticella confirmed this.

Bimbo promptly filed suit against Mr. Botticella in Pennsylvania, which is interesting in part because Mr. Botticella is a California resident and, as previously noted, the Bimbo Bakery is also in California. Bimbo argues that Mr. Botticella “will inevitably disclose to Hostess” confidential information and trade secrets.

California courts have rejected the “inevitable disclosure” doctrine and recently assessed $1.7M in attorney’s fees against an employer who tried – obviously unsuccessfully – to assert it. This may explain why Bimbo brought their suit in Pennsylvania. A decision on Bimbo’s request for a permanent injunction is expected by mid-February, and we can’t wait to read it.

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