Trade Secrets v. Patents: Considerations in Choosing How to Protect Your IP

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Intellectual property owners may seek to protect certain information either by obtaining a patent or by maintaining its secrecy. A patent provides strong, exclusive rights for a fixed period of time, generally twenty years. A trade secret may last indefinitely but protection can be lost through independent development, reverse engineering, or failure to maintain secrecy. (We previously published a chart comparing the features of patents and trade secrets.) This article discusses those instances when trade secret protection may be superior to patent protection.  READ MORE

Sparks Fly in Ninth Circuit’s Nosal II Opinion

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As many loyal TSW readers know, we’ve been watching the ongoing saga involving ex-Korn Ferry recruiter David Nosal wind its way through the courts since the early days of this blog. And last month, the highly anticipated Ninth Circuit opinion in United States v. Nosal was issued on July 5, 2016 (“Nosal II”). This was the second time the Ninth Circuit had issued a ruling in the case relating to charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (the “CFAA”). In April 2012, an en banc panel dismissed five of the eight CFAA counts against Nosal (“Nosal I”). A jury subsequently convicted Nosal of the remaining three CFAA counts, as well as two Economic Espionage Act (“EEA”) counts in April 2013 and Nosal was sentenced to 366 days in prison, three years supervised release, community service, $60,000 in fines, and restitution. READ MORE

Government Involvement in Noncompetes… Against a Sandwich Maker?! Jimmy John’s Slapped With Another Lawsuit, This Time Brought by the Illinois Attorney General

27Jul16

Jimmy John’s can’t seem to escape the limelight. Last year, the company made headlines (discussed here) when employees hit it with a putative class action lawsuit seeking to invalidate their non-compete agreements. The District Court determined that the employees did not have standing to pursue their claims, and never reached the issue of whether the non-competes were valid. Just last month, the Illinois Attorney General filed suit against Jimmy John’s over the same non-compete agreements.  READ MORE

These are Not the Trade Secrets You’re Looking For: Star Wars Model Maker Sues Ex-Employees for Misappropriation

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In a tale of alleged betrayal and misappropriation of trade secrets in a courtroom (not) far, far away, a pioneering company in the area of special effects has sued its former employees and a vendor, claiming that they conspired to recreate the company’s primary business under a new name, erasing the evidence on the way out. The alleged tale is an illustration of how vulnerable a company and its trade secrets can be in times of ownership and business transition, especially when the company relies mostly on a single customer. READ MORE

Brexit’s Potential Impact for Trade Secrets in the UK

5Jul2016 (2)

To the surprise of many and the dismay of more than sixteen million United Kingdom voters, the previously unthinkable has occurred, the UK has voted to leave the European Union. In a tightly contested referendum, voters have chosen to end UK’s time as an EU member. Though the referendum is not technically legally binding, most expect the government to heed the voice of the people. READ MORE

Founding Fathers (or cases) of Trade Secret Law: A Look Back in Celebration of Independence Day

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Over the last few weeks, TSW has reported extensively on the first few cases brought under the new Defend Trade Secrets Act. But, given our recent celebration of our nation’s birthday and the day Will Smith saved the planet from alien attack, TSW takes a brief look back at the foundation and birth of trade secret law in the United States. READ MORE

Early Returns (Part 3 of 3): California Federal Court First to Rule Under New Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016

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Here at TSW, we continue to watch closely the case law developing under the new Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), which attempts to harmonize divergent state laws by creating a single federal framework for trade secrets misappropriation lawsuits. The Northern District of California appears to have won the race to be the first federal court to enter a written decision under the DTSA. The early rulings in this case already give us some food for thought when it comes to litigating trade secret claims under the DTSA. READ MORE

Early Returns (Part 2 of 3): The DTSA Lifts Off

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(Editorial Note: This is the second in our two-part series exploring recent litigation under the newly-enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act.)

We’ve been tracking the development of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) for a while on TSW. It was only last month that President Obama signed the dotted line, and the DTSA became law. Now, Space Data has filed suit against Google for patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets under the DTSA, misappropriation of trade secrets under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and breach of contract. We’ll be watching closely to see how the Northern District Court of California handles one of the first cases under the DTSA. READ MORE

Early Returns (Part 1 of 3): 3D Printing Company Sues under New Defend Trade Secrets Act

-Jun-16

(Editorial Note: This is our first of a two-part series exploring recent litigation under the newly-enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act.)

In late May 2016, Magic Leap, Inc. became a pioneer in trade secrets litigation when it became one of the first to venture into the uncharted waters of the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Magic Leap—a developer of technologies used for 3D renderings in augmented reality—sued two of its former employees for trade secret misappropriation under the DTSA in federal court in the Northern District of California. As we recently reported, President Obama signed into law what some consider the “most significant” intellectual properly legislation since the Lanham Act. READ MORE

Litigate Trade Secret Misappropriation Disputes in Chinese Courts

10-Jun-16

How can trade secret misappropriation disputes be litigated in Chinese courts, despite the system’s lack of US-style discovery tools? Many companies, especially foreign companies, might be hesitant to even think about bringing trade secret misappropriation actions in China for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly, based on concerns over how to collect evidence. READ MORE