September 26, 2018
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IDEXX sues competitor over contract breach, possible trade secret misuse

By Lori Valigra
Updated:

IDEXX Laboratories, a veterinary diagnostic and testing company based in Westbrook, filed a lawsuit Friday against a Portland-based veterinary company and two employees in district court, requesting a jury trial.

IDEXX made the 32-page filing against Direct Market Marketing, a company also doing business as Vets First Choice, and two former IDEXX employees, Dan Leach and Agostino Scicchitano, who were later hired by Vets First Choice.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims a breach of contract and actual and/or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets.

IDEXX is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

“Two employees accessed and transferred an unusually large number of files toward the end of their employment with IDEXX,” an IDEXX spokeswoman wrote in an email response to the Bangor Daily News.

“We safeguard our valuable intellectual property and take action when we have strong reason to suspect it has or will be misused,” she said. “We look forward to resolving this matter.”

David Shaw, a co-founder of Vets First Choice, responded in an email to the BDN Tuesday, writing, “Acting with integrity, including protection of intellectual property, data privacy, and information security, is a core value at Vets First Choice. We are not able to comment on pending litigation.”

The three parties had not filed court responses to the complaint as of Monday afternoon, according to a court clerk in Portland.

The complaint alleges that during an analysis, “IDEXX uncovered activities on Leach’s and Scicchitano’s computers that strongly suggest that both Leach and Scicchitano improperly accessed and downloaded and/or retained highly confidential IDEXX information, including proprietary planning documents and internal training materials. Such information is highly confidential to IDEXX, is not known generally within IDEXX — or by IDEXX’s outside competitors — and would give Leach, Scicchitano and VFC an unfair competitive advantage.”

The filing also claims Vets First Choice violated noncompetition agreements.

It says IDEXX has suffered irreparable and other significant injuries, and asks the court to prevent the three parties from using or disclosing IDEXX’s private information, among other requests.

No specific monetary damages were requested in the filing, though it does ask for punitive damages to be awarded at a trial along with attorneys’ and other fees.

IDEXX, the first of a series of veterinary companies clustered around Portland, reached $1.97 billion in revenue in 2017. It was founded by David Shaw, managing partner of The Black Point Group, a Portland-based investment firm.

Black Point was an early investor in Vets First Choice. Shaw also is chairman of the board of Vets First Choice. His son, Ben Shaw, co-founded the company and serves as CEO.

Vets First Choice, an online portal where veterinarians and their clients can order pet prescriptions and other products, has grown quickly.

The company said on April 23 that it expects to become Maine’s largest publicly traded company, aside from banks, when it completes a planned merger with the animal health unit of distributor Henry Schein of Melville, New York. The merged company would have sales of about $3.6 billion.

Henry Schein is proceeding with the merger, according to a statement within its second quarter financial results released Tuesday.

“We are on track with our efforts to prepare for the planned spin-off of our global Animal Health business with Vets First Choice, which will create a new publicly traded company, Vets First Corp,” Stanley M. Bergman, chairman of the board and CEO of Henry Schein, said in a prepared statement.

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