Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit approved a district court order from the Northern District of California imposing $5,000 in sanctions against a plaintiff’s attorney for factual misrepresentations made in an underlying trade secret case lawsuit brought by a toy inventor.
According to the complaint, California toy designer Jason Heller wanted to get a price quote for a prototype of a robotic hamster toy he had designed. He entered into NDAs with two Hong Kong toy companies and handed over information about his hamster toy idea. Read More
There are stirrings in the U.S. Senate of yet another bid to establish a federal right of civil action for trade secret misappropriation.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) has quietly circulated a draft bill to IP lawyers and others with an interest in the legislation. The draft Protecting American Trade Secrets and Innovation Act of 2014 (“PATSIA 2014”) is the latest of several recent attempts to bring about this right. The past attempts include Sen. Coons’ own prior iteration of the bill, PATSIA 2012 (S. 3389), which never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read More
Trade Secrets Watch previously outlined the benefits and potential risks of referring a case of trade secrets theft to the government for criminal prosecution. One of the most important downsides to consider is that the victim loses control: once a case is referred, the prosecutor decides whether and when to drop charges or pursue conviction, what strategies to pursue, and generally how to run the case. Part of this loss of control includes the possibility that the prosecutor may not sufficiently protect the secrecy of the trade secrets at issue. If the secrets are publicly disclosed during the course of the criminal prosecution, their value as secrets may be lost forever. Read More
Earlier this year, we picked mandatory public disclosure laws as a trend to watch in 2014. Developments in California seem to bear that out, and trade secrets owners will want to keep a close eye on the “green chemistry” movement and expanded public disclosure requirements for manufacturers of a wide range of consumer products. Companies that make or sell products in California — ranging from electronics and household cleaners to children’s toys and cosmetics — will need to map out a plan that complies with the new requirements while at the same time protecting their valuable intellectual property, including trade secrets. Read More
Should restaurateurs wonder eachtime they hire someone: Will this person steal their recipes — the bread and butter of their business?
Trade secret law offers limited comfort. Restaurant owners who have pursued such recipe bandits on trade secret misappropriation grounds have a mixed win-loss record. And like a fine paring knife, trade secret law can cut two ways: while it can help protect intellectual property, enforcing these laws in the restaurant business may also drive talent away. Would Michelin restaurant SPQR’s executive chef Matthew Accarrino have joined if he had been required to sign an employment agreement stating that any recipes developed during his employment become the intellectual property of the restaurant? Probably not. Read More
Employers know all too well that their own employees are often the most likely people to misappropriate their confidential and proprietary information and their valuable trade secrets. Employers have plenty of weapons at their disposal to combat such wrongdoing, including the assertion of claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, breach of the duty of loyalty, unfair competition, and other common law or statutory claims. Another little-used but powerful weapon is the so-called “faithless servant doctrine.” Read More
As the world prepares to descend on Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Trade Secrets Watch decided to take a look at how effective trade secret protections are in Russia.
Although Russia has fairly robust trade secret laws, Russian companies have generally been reluctant to seek legal redress for trade secret violations. According to studies conducted by market research agencies, about 90 percent of Russian companies have at some stage suffered from the theft of trade secrets. Although such theft can be a criminal offense, in most cases companies faced with this problem try to deal with it by themselves. In only 5 percent of cases do they initiate legal proceedings. Read More
It should be obvious that if you want trade secret protection, you shouldn’t wave your purported trade secret around in public. Likewise, if you see someone openly disclosing your trade secret on television, you should probably do something about it.
This is the scenario that arose in a recent case between two Miami fine-dining restaurants called Mr. Chow and Phillipe. Read More
The U.S. International Trade Commission has upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination that a Chinese company misappropriated its U.S. competitor’s rubber resin trade secrets, and has banned it from importing its products for 10 years. This is just the latest chapter in the long-running international trade secret dispute between SI Group Inc. and Sino Legend (Zhangjiagang) Chemical Co. Ltd., as previously reported.
The ruling directly conflicts with that of a Chinese court, which reached the opposite conclusion and found that there was no misappropriation. Read More
The gyms are packed, the diet cookbooks are flying off the shelves, and smokers are struggling to kick the habit. It’s the resolution season, and surveys say half of the top 10 most popular new year’s goals aim for better health. Entire industries exist to serve these pledges: everywhere you look, someone is touting a new diet or exercise “secret.” Some of these “new-you” purveyors claim their formulas are actually trade secrets, and have gone to court to protect them. But are they really so secret? Read More