A U.S. District Court in Nebraska has ruled in favour of Farmers Edge in a counterclaim case launched by Farmobile — the latest development in a legal dispute between the two agtech companies.
Back in May, the court dismissed Farmers Edge’s claims in a trade secrets lawsuit against Farmobile related to technology used for gathering farm machinery data.
That decision still stands, but the court has now ruled in favour of Farmers Edge in a counterclaim case filed by Farmobile, saying it did not find evidence that Farmers Edge (referred to as FEI in court documents) “acted in bad faith or engaged in misconduct in bringing and maintaining its claim. Notably, Farmobile was equally aggressive in connection with counterclaims against FEI.”
The ongoing dispute, which is also the subject of litigation in the Canadian court system, revolves around technology used in Farmers Edge’s CanPlug and Farmobile’s PUC devices.
Both products plug into farm equipment to collect and share machine operating information.
The CanPlug was developed by a company called Crop Ventures, which was acquired by Farmers Edge in 2014. Meanwhile, three former employees of Crop Ventures formed Farmobile in 2013 and developed the PUC.
“The factual backdrop that led to this lawsuit — the individual defendants left Crop Ventures, formed Farmobile, and then started marketing a product similar to one they had worked on at Crop Ventures — supports assertion of misappropriation of trade secrets claims,” notes Judge Joseph Bataillon in the counterclaim decision, dismissing Farmobile’s motion to recover attorney fees.
“We’re pleased with the court’s order to dismiss Farmobile’s claim. Getting to the truth is not always simple, but Farmers Edge stands for what is right,” says Farmers Edge CEO Wade Barnes in a statement responding to the decision. “From the beginning, we were confident the court would recognize that the credibility of our testimonies was consistent with the evidence and relevant facts of the case.”
The counterclaim ruling does not change the earlier decision in Farmobile’s favour, notes Joan Archer, general counsel for Farmobile.
“The most recent ruling does not alter the court’s prior decision granting summary judgment in Farmobile’s favor,” says Archer, in a statement shared with RealAgriculture. “The court’s most recent ruling only relates to Farmobile’s counterclaim under the Defend Trade Secrets Act alleging that Farmers Edge acted in bad faith such that Farmobile should be awarded its attorneys’ fees related to the case.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with quote from Farmobile on August 22.