New York Trial Court Permits Action for Misappropriation of Hedge Fund Proprietary Software and Breach of Partnership Agreement To Proceed

On January 6, 2009, a New York County trial court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Kenneth L. Telljohann and his company, CoVision Capital Group, LLC, against defendants Lawrence Doyle, a hedge fund manager, and his business entity, Tower Capital, Inc. The plaintiffs alleged that Doyle breached their partnership agreement and his fiduciary duty to his partners, and misappropriated the plaintiffs’ hedge fund asset allocation and risk analysis software. Alternatively, the plaintiffs sought to recover the value of the work they had performed on behalf of defendants through claims of unjust enrichment and quantum meruit and to prevent the further misuse of their software through a claim of unfair competition.  We describe the factual background and the court’s legal analysis, and in the process provide insight into how hedge fund managers and their service providers can structure arrangements to avoid disputes over ownership of intellectual property, and the revenue streams from such ownership.

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