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

Highly-Protected Secrets: Competitors Try to Keep Legal Secrets in the Quasi-Legal Marijuana Industry

How do you use the law to keep something unlawful a secret?  This and related questions arise as more states legalize marijuana for medical use, recreational use, or both.  As an illicit industry emerges from the shadows, competition and the substantial investments necessary to grow, package, and sell marijuana were bound to get rolled up in trade secrecy law at some point. Read More

FLORIDA SUNSHINE? State High Court Orders Gerrymandering Documents Made Public, Justice Thomas Rejects Last-Minute Appeal

This past summer, we reported on an emergency petition to Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court to stay a Florida Supreme Court’s decision permitting disclosure of documents submitted under seal during a trial challenging Florida legislature’s redistricting process.  The emergency petition was filed by Patrick Bainter and Data Targeting, Inc., political consultants hired by the Republican Party of Florida to assist with the redistricting process in that state.  At issue in the petition were more than 500 pages of documents that purportedly contained confidential Read More

UPDATE – Uniform Trade Secrets Act Preemption: The Debate Continues… With Possible Implications for Punitive Damages?

Just over one year ago, we noted the continued and vibrant debate among state and federal courts over whether the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) preempts other claims based on the misappropriation of information when that information does not qualify as a trade secret.  In that post, we noted that Arizona was one of the states in which the “majority interpretation” had been applied, which is the view that UTSA preempts all common law tort claims based on trade secret misappropriation, whether or not it meets the statutory definition of a trade secret.

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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.
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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.)

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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.
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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.
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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