Last week, a federal jury in Wisconsin awarded almost $1 billion to Epic Systems Corporation in its trade secrets case against Indian consulting company Tata Consulting Services, Ltd., and its American unit, Tata America International Corporation. Epic provides software for medical groups, hospitals, and integrated health care organizations. Tata was hired by one of Epic’s customers, Kaiser Permanente, to provide consulting services in connection with the Epic software. A whistle-blower alerted Epic in 2014 that TCS employees were accessing Epic’s computer network without authorization, and using the information obtained to assist Tata in the development of competing software. 

Epic claimed that TCS employees misrepresented themselves as Kaiser employees in order to gain access to portions of information they would not otherwise have had access to. According to Epic, the information illegally obtained included trade secret documents detailing over 20 years of development of Epic’s proprietary software and database systems, including programming rules and processes developed to produce optimal functionality of Epic’s software, and documents that decode the operation of Epic’s source code.

The jury found wrongdoing, and awarded $140 million for possible benefits the defendants obtained for use of TCS’s “Comparative Analysis” documents, and $100 million for use of other confidential information. TCS is reported to have said that the jury did not understand the difference between user documentation, which TCS had permission to access, and source code. In a post-verdict press release, TCS said that the company did not misuse or derive any benefit from downloaded documents. TCS has said that it will appeal the verdict, and that it “appreciates the judge’s announcement from the bench that he is almost certain he will reduce the damages award.”