Trade Secret Lawsuit Filed by Food Co. Says Employee Helped International Competitor

PGP International, Inc. (PGPI), which develops food ingredients, including high protein soy crisps, gluten-free products, and rice flours, claimed in a complaint filed on Monday in the Southern District of Ohio that a former employee has used its trade secrets to help build international competitors who are moving into the United States market under the name GB Food. 

PCP is seeking injunctive relief from the defendants, including Peter Hassing; GB Food, Inc.; The Brecks Company LTD; and Gushen Biological Technology Group Co. LTD. GB Food is reportedly owned by Gushen and Brecks and is “poised to enter the United States market for certain extruded particulate food ingredients.” The plaintiff claimed that it would directly compete with PGPI, stealing its customers, and would use “PGPI’s own stolen trade secrets.” 

The plaintiff said that it spent significant time and money developing its products for specialized markets, and that Gushen and Brecks conspired with the defendant Peter Hassing, a PGPI sales executive who the plaintiffs accused of stealing “hundreds of trade secrets,” including information about customers, pricing, manufacturing, and strategic objectives. GB Food reportedly solicited PGPI customers, violating an agreement Hassing made with PGPI, and claims to offer products that would compete with PGPI’s products. 

The complaint stated that “PGPI has enjoyed success and meaningful market share in the specialized markets in which it competes due to PGPI’s investment of time and resources developing technical products that fit the highly-specific needs of each customer. Gushen and Brecks are using GB Food and Hassing as part of a scheme to skip all of the pain, time, and cost of developing those products and instead build a business based on the stolen secrets and work already done by PGPI— to the direct financial detriment of PGPI and in direct violation of Hassing’s confidentiality agreement with PGPI.” 

The company asked the District Court for injunctive relief stopping GB Foods from using its trade secrets, including reaching out to its customers, and to stop Hassing from continuing to share the alleged trade secrets. PGPI said if the defendants are allowed to continue it would suffer losses and irreparable harm. 

PGPI is represented by Ice Miller