Case Law Reviews, Chemicals
Tangibly Case Law Review # 7

Spear Marketing, Inc. v. BancorpSouth Bank

2016 , United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Judge Judges King, Owen, and Haynes


In the 2016 appeal case Spear Marketing, Inc. v. BancorpSouth Bank, the litigation centered on Spear Marketing, Inc. (SMI) accusing BancorpSouth Bank and Argo Data Resource Corp. of misappropriating trade secrets related to its VaultWorks software to create a competing product, Cash Inventory Optimization (CIO). The case was initially brought to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleging trade secret theft. Despite attempts to amend claims to sidestep copyright preemption issues, the focus remained on the trade secret theft, leading to a summary judgment for the defendants due to SMI's lack of evidence. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a nearly $1 million attorneys' fees award to the defendants, emphasizing the case's significance in the realm of copyright preemption and trade secret litigation. This decision is an appeal from the district court.


The appellate court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the defendants and upheld the nearly $1 million attorneys’ fees award under the Texas Theft Liability Act (TTLA) or, alternatively, under the Copyright Act.

Legal Significance

This case highlights the complexities of copyright preemption in trade secret litigation and underscores the significant financial implications for parties prevailing in such disputes.

Financial Judgement

$1 million

Key Takeaways

The Spear Marketing, Inc. v. BancorpSouth Bank case underscores the importance of providing substantial evidence when alleging trade secret theft and illustrates the potential for significant financial judgments, including attorneys’ fees, in copyright and trade secret litigation.