China’s New Cybersecurity Policies: Is the Price of Compliance Worth the Risk of Disclosure?

Tensions recently escalated in the United States and China’s ongoing exchange over online security and technology policies, as China adopted the first in a series of policies it previously approved at the end of last year.  Among other things, the newly adopted regulations require foreign technology companies that sell computer equipment to Chinese banks to submit to obtrusive audits, set up research and development centers in the country, build “back doors” into their hardware and software, and, perhaps most disconcerting, disclose intellectual property to the Chinese government, including proprietary source code. Read More

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Role of Alleged Trade Secrets Forensic Evidence in the Amanda Knox Murder Case

Italy’s high court has taken up the appeal of Amanda Knox’s murder conviction in the 2007 murder of Knox’s British roommate in Italy.  A decision was expected as early as Wednesday, but with a full caseload, the judge has said a ruling may not be handed down until Friday.

The story has grabbed headlines for years, and while many of us are now all-too-familiar with the grisly details surrounding the case, most are not aware of the role trade secrets have played in the proceedings. Read More

Five Minutes With … National Security and Cybercrime Professor Ahmed Ghappour

This marks the inaugural “Five Minutes With” feature that Trade Secrets Watch will run occasionally.  These will be question-and-answers with notable figures in the trade secrets world.

TSW got a chance to sit down with UC Hastings College of the Law professor and Liberty, Security & Technology Clinic founder Ahmed Ghappour.  He had a lot to say about trade secrets, cybersecurity, and encrypting “all the things.”
 
TSW:  Ahmed, TSW is dying to know what you’ve been up to lately in the world of economic espionage.  What’s the inside scoop? Read More

Former Aerospace Engineer Pleads Guilty to Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Intended for Iran

Although it appears that the U.S. and Iran are moving closer to a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s allies appear to remain committed to acquiring military-grade technology from U.S. companies by way of engineers sympathetic to Iran.

According to an FBI press release, a former Pratt & Whitney engineer, Mr. Mozaffar Khazaee of Connecticut, pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act by attempting to send to Iran export-controlled trade secrets (such as technical manuals, specification sheets, etc.) relating to jet engines used in the U.S. Air Force’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter program and F-22 Raptor program. He now faces a possible 20 years in prison. The investigation revealed that Mr. Khazaee misappropriated the materials from at least three different defense contractors where he has worked since 2009. Mr. Khazaee is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran. Read More

Snow Joke: The Weather Channel Zaps Trade Secrets Misappropriation Claims

We have written before about business collaborations gone sour that lead to trade secret misappropriation lawsuits.  In a recent example, The Weather Channel convinced a court to wash away claims that its use of data from a former licensor violated trade secret laws.  We can take away some useful lessons from how both parties approached this relationship and the treatment of sensitive data. Read More

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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