ORLANDO — A Minnesota attorney discussed in an online interview
about unfair practice suits like one case
in the Orlando division of the U.S. District Court for the Middle
District of Florida.
As previously reported by the Florida Record, two local
business owners that once worked together now are involved in a legal
battle over alleged unfair business practices in Florida in regard to
competition in the professional polishing industry here. One
businessman alleged that the other used information obtained from
working in a mutual relationship at one point, then using it to
The complaint was filed on Jan. 6 against Xiaoyu Abrasive
Inc., doing business as Universal Polishing Systems. The suit stated
the Lanham Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices
Chris Kennedy, an attorney for Kennedy and Kennedy Law Firm in
Mankato, Minnesota, is not familiar with Florida law specifically,
but most states have similar structures in regard to unfair
competition statutes like this. Kennedy spoke generally about the
burden of proof in cases like this both for the defendant and
"In this type of claim, the plaintiff has to show that the
defendant had access to information, a duty to protect the
information and that they used it in a manner to cause the plaintiff
harm," Kennedy said in an email interview with the Florida
Record. "The defendant many times will argue that the
information that was acquired was acquired in a legal fashion and was
Kennedy also explained how the court would decide to award damages
in cases like this.
"The court will determine damages based on lost contracts and
actual damages," he said. "In some cases, if the plaintiff
can show that the use of the information was in a manner that meant
to cause harm, then there may be punitive damages as well."
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant discussed a possible
business partnership. Later, the two became entangled by sharing an
industry marketing trade-show booth. The proposed partnership did not
go as planned and, according to the lawsuit, the defendant expanded
to directly compete with the plaintiff.
The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant tried to claim the
plaintiff's work was its own and even stated on its website that
machines that were owned by the plaintiff were its own as well.
"This type of claim is many times brought with other causes
of action, and the cases settle for other reasons," Kennedy
The plaintiff said the defendant in the case is responsible for
causing confusion in the local market about affiliation or connection
to the plaintiff. The defendant was also alleged to have done all
this using the plaintiff's goodwill and reputation to advance its own
company's competing business interests.
The plaintiff wants a trial by jury and judgment against for
damages, attorneys' fees, interest, costs and further relief the
court is willing to grant.
The plaintiff's attorneys are Jeffrey M. Partlow of Cole, Scott &
Kissane PA in Orlando and Todd Deveau and Wesley Roberts of Thomas
Horstemeyer LLP in Atlanta.