Running Interference: S.D.N.Y. Lays Out Standards for Tortious Interference in Dispute Between Watchmaker and Former Employees

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently cleared the way for a Michigan watchmaker to pursue claims for trade secret misappropriation, among other things, against two former employees who left to work with a competitor, but not without first dismissing claims based on tortious interference with contract.

For companies whose business model depends on a key contract (e.g., with a licensor, vendor, or supplier), the biggest worry with departing employees might not be the theft of intellectual property or trade secrets—but rather the loss of the contract or business relationship.
Read More

CONTINENTAL SHIFT: EU Advances Legal Regime Protecting Trade Secrets

The European Union appears poised to enact a sweeping new legal regime that would harmonize trade secrets law across all member states.

It’s been a year since we wrote about a new EU proposal to regulate trade secret protection. Then, at the end of November 2013, the EU published its first draft proposal for a Directive on the protection of trade secrets.In May of this year, the Council of the European Union agreed on a revised draft Directive. (In contrast to European Regulations, European Directives do not apply directly as member states’ law, but only give objectives that the Member States must achieve within a specified time limit in order to harmonize their various national rules. This means that, in fact, trade secrets rules will not be “unified” but rather “similar” across the Continent.)

Read More

RUSSIAN WEAPONS: New Amendments to Russia’s Trade Secret Law Target Thieving CEOs and Workers

New amendments to Russian law take aim at the theft of trade secrets by employees, with especially tough penalties for thieving CEOs.

The amendments to Russia’s Trade Secret Law became effective October 1, 2014. The goal of these amendments is to increase the protection of trade secrets by stiffening penalties for unauthorized disclosures by employees.
Read More

Justice Hammers International Trade Secrets Hackers

A recent Justice Department reorganization of its National Security Division concentrates resources on fighting state-sponsored economic espionage and corporate theft of trade secrets. These strategic changes focus on Justice’s ability to target and prosecute hackers and others who seek to damage national assets by means including economic espionage, proliferation, and cyber-based national security threats.
Read More

Stop and Smell the Trade Secrets, Part II: Two Major Companies Voluntarily Disclose Fragrance Ingredient Information

Do you know which chemical ingredients create that complex smell in your favorite deodorant, cologne, or perfume?  For years, the answer has been a resounding no.  Historically, the consumer products industry has relied on trade secret protection to avoid disclosing natural and synthetic chemical “fragrance” ingredients in its products.  However, in the last two months, several multinational companies, including the Clorox Co. and SC Johnson, have voluntarily disclosed the “fragrance” ingredients in their products. These affirmative steps signal that companies are increasingly trying to balance consumer safety concerns with trade secret protection. Read More

New Strings Attached: LinkedIn Contacts Are Now Trade Secrets?

From a birds-eye view, Cellular Accessories For Less, Inc. v. Trinitas, LLC appears to be a typical dispute between an employer and its former employee. However, a closer look reveals an issue new to the world of trade secrets—specifically, do LinkedIn contacts qualify as trade secrets? For now, they may: a federal judge in the Central District of California denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment last month, finding there were triable issues of material fact surrounding the question whether LinkedIn contacts were protectable trade secrets. Read More

WORLD SERIES EDITION: These Trade Secrets Are Going, Going, Gone

Ah, October: the time of crisp fall air, brightly colored leaves, and pumpkin spice-flavored everything. And, of course, the World Series quest that can unite a city—or, in the case of Orrick’s San Francisco and Washington, D.C. offices, give rise to a friendly wager (sorry, D.C.!). In honor of the baseball playoffs, we take a look at some trade secret issues related to our national pastime.
Read More

On Obtaining and Asserting Both Trade Secret and Patent Protection: The ITC and Federal Circuit Weigh In

We’ve written previously about how intellectual property owners can obtain both patent and trade secret protection in the same technology.  A case out of the Federal Circuit illustrates that IP holders sometimes choose to assert both in the same action – including, notably, in actions before the International Trade Commission (“ITC”).

Last month, in uPI Semiconductor Corp. v. ITC the Federal Circuit affirmed a finding that a defendant in a mixed patent infringement/trade secret action violated an earlier consent order.  The court found the defendant had aided and abetted its customers in importing products incorporating electrical controllers that the defendant had previously stipulated Read More

New CA Law Gives Refineries Broad Authority to Designate Maintenance Records Trade Secrets

Ah, what would corporations give to be able to have trade secret protections for their information simply by declaring it a trade secret? For oil refineries in California, that dream may now be a reality.

On September 20, 2014, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1300 into law. The bill requires oil refineries in California to report information about all scheduled shutdowns and other maintenance for the upcoming calendar year to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health by September 15 of each year. The bill also expands the definition of trade secrets as it applies to oil refineries and permits oil refineries to identify as trade secrets “all or a portion of the information submitted” under the bill if they believe that the information “may involve the release of a trade secret.”
Read More

Trade Secret Plaintiff Goes Three Rounds, Takes a Beating

Last week, New York attorney Douglas R. Dollinger asked the Honorable Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California to reconsider an order sanctioning Dollinger and his client to the tune of $93,365.92 in monetary sanctions and dismissing all of the client’s claims with prejudice as terminating sanctions. The Court’s sanctions, and Dollinger’s request for reconsideration, are the result of a series of attempts by Plaintiff to manufacture standing for a company that didn’t exist. Plaintiff tried on numerous occasions to identify a company with standing, but was repeatedly countered by Defendants and eventually pounded with both monetary and terminating sanctions. Read More