Beyond Meat Scores Small Win in Case Against Former Co-Packer

A Los Angeles judge dismissed claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition brought by Don Lee Farms.

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EL SEGUNDO, CA — On Aug. 31, Beyond Meat announced the favorable ruling it received in its legal case with Don Lee Farms, a former co-manufacturer that was terminated by Beyond Meat after failing to meet its standards for quality and safety. In the ruling issued August 27, 2021, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly J. Fujie granted Beyond Meat’s motion for summary adjudication on Don Lee Farms’ claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition. As a result, those claims will not proceed to trial, which is now set for May 16, 2022.

The Court’s ruling puts an end to the fictional narrative Don Lee Farms has attempted to use throughout this case that Beyond Meat misappropriated Don Lee Farms’ trade secrets to manufacture the Beyond Burger and other products. Beyond Meat will vigorously defend against Don Lee Farms’ remaining claims against Beyond Meat, which are premised on Beyond Meat’s alleged breach of the parties’ contract and Don Lee Farms’ allegation that it was fraudulently induced to continue working with Beyond Meat despite profiting from the parties’ relationship. Beyond Meat also intends to pursue its own claims against Don Lee Farms—including its claim that Don Lee Farms misappropriated Beyond Meat’s trade secrets to create its own line of copycat products. Beyond Meat seeks millions of dollars in damages from Don Lee Farms and its owners Donald Goodman, Daniel Goodman, and Brandon Goodman.

Beyond Meat invested millions of dollars in research and development to bring its revolutionary products to consumers around the world. Don Lee Farms served as Beyond Meat’s co-manufacturer from 2014 to the spring of 2017, when Beyond Meat discovered dangerous pathogens at Don Lee Farms’ facility in Mansfield, Texas. Unwilling to risk consumer safety, Beyond Meat terminated its relationship with Don Lee Farms. Don Lee Farms retaliated by suing Beyond Meat in 2017, asserting, among other things, claims for trade secrets misappropriation and unfair competition. Although Don Lee Farms had no prior experience manufacturing plant-based meat products, it claimed it owned the procedures for manufacturing Beyond Meat’s proprietary plant-based meat products. The Court has now outright rejected that claim.