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

Trade Secrets and Third Parties: Litigation Traps To Avoid

Orrick’s Chris Ottenweller and Derek Knerr recently took to Law360 to review recent cases involving theories of third-party liability for trade secret misappropriation.  New employees are one obvious source of potential liability if they bring to the job information obtained from their prior employer. But in recent years companies have also increasingly faced suits based on relationships with contractors and vendors. Chris and Derek offer some practical considerations to help companies mitigate potential liability in the first place.

New Year’s Resolutions for Companies Seeking to Protect Their Trade Secrets in 2015

The start of a new year is a perfect opportunity to set lofty goals of self-improvement. While the odds of completing a New Year’s resolution aren’t exactly inspiring (over half are expected to fail within six months) studies still show that people who make specific resolutions are more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. The payout for making a specific plan (particularly when it comes to protecting trade secrets) can be quite rewarding. Read More

Backlash Against Jimmy John’s Non-Compete Agreement Highlights Risks of Overzealous Business Protection Measures

The submarine sandwich franchise Jimmy John’s has come under fire recently following the publication of a broad non-compete agreement that it has allegedly required rank-and-file employees to sign.  The non-competition agreement came to light after several employees brought a putative class action seeking to torpedo the Illinois-based company for alleged violations of wage laws and also sought a declaratory judgment that the agreement was void as against public policy (the case is currently pending in the Northern District of Illinois, Brunner v. Jimmy John’s, Case No. 14-cv-05509).

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CHRISTMAS EDITION [FROM THE ARCHIVES]: Trade Secrets Litigation Delayed to Save Christmas?

On Christmas, Santa and his elves have their work cut out for them and sometimes even they can use help to get their jobs done. During the holiday season, a variety of businesses assist Santa & Co. to import and distribute Christmas merchandise and other seasonal goods to retail stores in time for the holidays. Unfortunately, those companies can be as susceptible to a trade secrets dispute as anyone else, and one year just such a dispute threatened to put a damper on Christmas. Read More

Nosal Returns to the Ninth Circuit Posing the Question: Is a Password a Sufficient “Technological Access Barrier” Under the CFAA?

Observers following the legal issues surrounding the prosecution of David Nosal will be watching closely in 2015 as the former Korn Ferry executive returns to the Ninth Circuit to appeal his 2013 conviction on three counts of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Read More

USPTO to Host First-Ever Symposium on Trade Secrets

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is hosting its first Trade Secret Symposium on Thursday, January 8, 2015, at the USPTO building in Alexandria, Virginia. The fact that the USPTO, an office whose primary focus is patents and trademarks, is hosting such an event is noteworthy and indicates the increasing importance of trade secrets in the American economy.

Panelists at the symposium will include experts from academia, the legislative and executive branches, the judiciary, private practice, and industry. Read More