Re-trial date set in Walmart trade secrets suit

This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.
This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.

Walmart Inc. will get a re-trial next year in a trade secrets lawsuit brought by Zest Labs and its Rogers parent company.

The order for the new jury trial was signed Jan. 3 by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. A trial date is set for Jan. 21 in Little Rock.

Zest Labs of San Jose, Calif., and its parent company, Ecoark Holdings Inc. of Rogers, won a $115 million judgment against Walmart in April 2021.

In their original complaint filed in 2018, the companies claimed that Walmart misappropriated a produce freshness system it was testing for them and then stole the technology to develop its own version.

But on Sept. 26, Walmart filed a motion seeking either dismissal of the case or a new trial in light of what it says is new evidence made available in post-trial discovery. The motion was kept under seal until Dec. 26.

In the motion, Walmart claimed that post-trial discovery confirmed that Zest had misrepresented its pre-publication awareness of Walmart's patent application for its own product. The motion also claimed that Zest altered and destroyed evidence that would have shown when Zest first saw the pending applications.

Zest had blamed a digital text reader's failure for leaving blank the text files it received of Walmart's patent application.

The Bentonville-based retailer countered that the text files weren't blank and and were flagged as important. Zest's own emails show that Zest was notified of the patent applications, according to court records.

The case is Zest Labs Inc. formerly known as Intelleflex Corp. and Ecoark Holdings Inc. v. Walmart Inc. formerly known as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

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