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Federal jury rules former Givaudan employee did not steal trade secrets 2008 case comes to an end for perfumer

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Former perfumer for Givaudan found not guilty of stealing trade secrets.
Former perfumer for Givaudan found not guilty of stealing trade secrets. - ()

A federal jury in Trenton ruled Thursday that a former Givaudan employee did not steal trade secrets from the flavors and fragrance giant. The case dates back to 2008 when fine fragrance perfumer James Krivda left Givaudan to work for a competitor, Wayne-based Mane USA.

Attorney Adam Saravay, a partner at McCarter & English who represented Krivda, said "the jury's verdict is a complete vindication: These are very serious accusations of trade secret theft and the jury's verdict is a complete vindication for Mane and Mr. Krivda and they are both thrilled to have this long dispute behind them."

Givaudan, a worldwide flavors and fragrance company with operations in East Hanover, in a brief called the case "one of the most egregious thefts of trade secrets by a departing employee ever witnessed in New Jersey."

Givaudan estimated the value of the trade secrets at more than $80 million.

Saravay said "Trade secret disputes are challenging to litigate in court, but we listened very carefully when our client explained the industry to us and that was a key to our successful defense. You have to listen to your client and understand their business

We proved that the formulas that Krivda created at Mane were independently developed."

Deborah Knighton, vice president of human resources for Mane, said the company is pleased to see the long and costly legal dispute come to an end.  Mane has about 138 employees in Wayne, she said.

"We couldn't be happier: this has been five and a half years of being wrongly accused and it was a vindication for us to finally have our name cleared and Mr. Krivda's name cleared," she said.

Knighton said Krivda, who is a Morris County resident, works at the company's New York office.

A spokesperson for Givaudan or the firm's lawyers could not be reached for comment. Representing Krivda was Marisa Steel, senior associate in the Labor & Employment Group at McCarter & English. Counsels for Mane were John Shea of Litchfield Cavo in Cherry Hill and Thad Barnes and David Owsley of Stites and Harbison in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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