A manufacturer of electrical connectors for automobiles sued another manufacturer and several competitors alleging theft of trade secrets. The plaintiff alleged that it had a contract to supply connectors to Bosch for use in cars manufactured by General Motors. After several years of performance under the contract, the manufacturer alleged that Bosch passed its designs off to its competitors in an effort to find a company to manufacture the required connectors at a cheaper price. The manufacturer sued in Illinois, but the district court found that it lacked jurisdiction over the case because the alleged theft did not take place in Illinois, and the fact that the connectors were used in vehicles that were ultimately sold in Illinois car dealerships was too attenuated to support jurisdiction. The 7th Circuit affirmed the decision on appeal.
In 2005, General Motors retained engineering company Bosch to build a “body control module” for some of its cars. A body control module is a computer system that controls certain electronic functions inside a car, like its locks and its power windows. To build the body control module, Bosch required a “183-pin connector,” an electrical adapter that can connect 183 electrical circuits. Bosch turned to Illinois company J.S.T. Corporation for the task. J.S.T. accepted the contract and designed and built for Bosch a 183-pin connector. J.S.T.’s connectors performed well and Bosch retained J.S.T. as its sole supplier of connectors for years. Continue reading ›