Remote Controlled: Keeping Trade Secrets Safe While Employees Work Remotely

One of the biggest challenges the cyber-security field faces today—aside from outright hacking—is the fact that employees’ data is increasingly portable. Data portability can be a major boon for employers. For instance, it may allow an employer to offer its employees the ability to work remotely (something that can improve employees’ work/life balance, or could be a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability).  However, data portability can also present major risks for an employer, particularly if an employee stands to profit from misuse of that information. Read More

Settlement Reached in Wyoming Fracking Disclosure Lawsuit: Heavier Burden of Proof for Companies Claiming Trade Secret or Confidentiality Protections

As we’ve previously discussed, a patchwork of state regulations requiring disclosure of chemicals used in fracking have been enacted by several states in recent years.  One such regulation was by the State of Wyoming.  While environmental groups initially lauded Wyoming’s new rule, the applause was short-lived as the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission began granting trade secret exemptions that prevented disclosure of this information to the public under the state public records act.  This led the environmental groups to sue the Commission.  After nearly three years of litigation, including an appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court, the parties reached a settlement that was approved by the state district court late last month.

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Russian Perspective: Can Sending Confidential Information to Your Personal Email Address Constitute a Disclosure of a Trade Secret?

Imagine that you are the General Director of a company (the Russian equivalent of an American CEO), and your information security department finds out that an employee, who you have long suspected of industrial espionage, has sent important confidential information belonging to the company to his personal email address. In that situation, what would you do? Would you (a) do nothing for the moment and wait until you have more definite proof of industrial espionage; (b) make the employee tell you why he sent the information to his personal email address; or (c) dismiss the employee? Clearly, you need to find out who the information is being sent to and maintain your reputation for enforcing the rules.

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Company’s Bacon Trade Secret Claims Are Cooked After Patent Filing

From Minnesota comes a delicious reminder that the protection of trade secrets requires consideration of a company’s entire intellectual property strategy.  Without such a comprehensive strategy, in the most prosaic of terms, a company’s bacon is cooked.

Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. designs and manufactures equipment used to process and cook meat.  It claims to have invented a revolutionary process to prepare pre-cooked sliced bacon that closely resembles the bacon you’d get from traditional pan frying.  You can watch this mouth-watering process in action here. Unitherm treated this process as a trade secret.

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Former Licensee Knocks Wind Out Of Sail Manufacturer’s Trade Secrets Claims

In the fiercely competitive world of professional sailing, every second matters. And, as with any sport, competitors look to gain any advantage they can by getting their hands on the latest equipment, fine-tuned to give them even the slightest advantage. This demand for the best equipment creates the same kind of competition among manufacturers, which can lead to battles over IP, licensing deals, and trade secrets.

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White House Proposal: Beef Up Anti-Hacking Laws and Resolve a Circuit Split

President Obama wants to go where the Supreme Court refused to tread.  As part of his cybersecurity and privacy initiatives, which we discussed last week, the President would strengthen the federal anti-hacking provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), including an expansion of activity covered by the statutory phrase “exceeds authorized access.”  In so doing, the President would resolve a circuit split between the First, Fifth, Eighth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits, on the one hand, and the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, on the other.  His reason?  “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families.” Read More

SHREDDING TRADE SECRETS: Heli-Ski Operators Fret over FOIA Disclosures Releasing a Blizzard of Confidential Information

Heli-skiing: it’s the holy grail for thrill-seeking skiers and snowboarders.   Ride to the roof of the world aboard a helicopter.  Descend thousands of vertical feet through fresh, untracked powder.  No lift lines, no ski patrol.

This is what heli-skiers pay upwards of $1,000 per day to see.  What they don’t see is the heli-ski tour company owner, back at the office fretting over his trade secrets.

These fly-by-day firms have many of the same trade secrets concerns as the technology companies, restaurateurs, fragrance makers, executive recruiting firms and countless other businesses we regularly write about.  Read More

Obama Administration Announces Cybersecurity and Privacy Initiatives

On Monday, January 12, 2015, President Obama appeared at the Federal Trade Commission to announce the administration’s blitz of cyber security and privacy legislative and public policy initiatives, which will be discussed in greater detail in tonight’s State of the Union Address. The President’s proposals encompass a broad range of legislation, as well as collaborative efforts between the federal government and industry leaders. Read More

The View from the Beltway: USPTO Symposium Highlights Increasing Economic Importance of Trade Secrets, Likelihood of Federal Legislation

On January 8, 2015, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted its first-ever event on trade secrets.  As we noted when we announced news of the event, the mere fact that the USPTO, an office whose primary focus is patents and trademarks, hosted such an event is noteworthy.  So why would the USPTO host an event on trade secrets?

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New Opposition to the EU Trade Secrets Directive

Not everyone is happy about the proposed EU Trade Secrets Directive.  When we last touched on this topic a couple of months ago, the European Union looked poised to enact a sweeping new legal regime that would harmonize trade secrets law across all member states.  The new framework was supposed to be a single, clear, and coherent legal regime for the protection of trade secrets.   And it was aimed at making it easier for national courts to deal with the misappropriation of confidential business information, remove trade-secret-infringing products from market, and facilitate compensation for illegal actions. Read More