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Posts by: Catherine Y. Lui

A Bump in the Road: An Update on the Waymo v. Uber Litigation

The Waymo v. Uber trade secrets litigation has been underway for less than two months but the case has already hit quite few speed bumps with multiple discovery battles, Waymo’s efforts to obtain a preliminary injunction from Judge William Alsup of Northern District of California, a fight over arbitration, assertions of 5th Amendment rights, and now an appeal to the Federal Circuit that has temporarily halted a portion of the district court proceedings.

As a quick recap of how we got here, Waymo alleges that one of its former key managers in charge of Waymo’s driverless car business, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded more than 14,000 files to start a competing company—Otto—that Uber later purchased.  The key technology relates to a LiDAR system, which is mounted on top of the car and gives the driverless car the ability to “see” other cars and obstacles.  Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction enjoining Uber from using or disclosing any of Waymo’s trade secrets and from selling any devices based on Waymo’s patents.  In aid of the PI hearing on May 3, 2017, the parties are engaging in expedited discovery. Since this case started, the docket has been quite active and full of interesting, thorny legal issues. READ MORE

One of Obama Administration’s Final Mandates: Non-Competes Should Be The Exception, Not The Rule

With all the hubbub over the Presidential election, it would not be hard to overlook some of the Obama administration’s final moves. Recently, the White House issued a call to action to state legislators to ban non-compete agreements for most classes of workers. In an era where even sandwich makers can be bound to a non-compete agreement, the White House is concerned about the overuse of non-compete agreements and the potential stifling effect of these agreements across the economy. According to the White House, 20 percent of U.S. workers are bound by non-compete agreements, including 14 percent of those earning less than $40,000 per year. READ MORE

A “Big Deal”: Latest U.S.-China Talks Signal Progress for Protection of Trade Secrets

Expectations didn’t appear high for the latest round of China-U.S. talks about a variety of economic issues including trade secret protection. As previously discussed at TSW, China had not signed onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and earlier this summer, the U.S. had threatened economic sanctions against China for lax cybersecurity enforcement.  READ MORE

GETTING AN $800,000 ASSIST FROM THE GOVERNMENT: Referring Trade Secret Theft For Criminal Prosecution Pays Off

We rely on the federal government for a lot of things, but helping a corporation recover attorney’s fees is not something that immediately comes to mind.  With a recent federal court opinion in the Northern District of California that made executive search firm Korn/Ferry International $827,983.25 richer (although the order likely will be appealed), more corporations may think about getting an assist from federal prosecutors in trade secret actions, rather than taking on the burden themselves in civil litigation. READ MORE

DESPITE THE CHEERS, THE DEFEND TRADE SECRETS ACT BILL HAS HOLES: What’s a Plaintiff to Do if It Passes?

State court or federal court?  If the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014 (DTSA) (S. 2267, introduced on April 29, 2014) becomes law, then trade secrets plaintiffs—not just those who can maintain diversity jurisdiction—could proceed in federal court under new federal law.  But would they want to?  While the knee-jerk reaction of many litigants is a resounding “Yes!,” we wonder whether federal court under the DTSA would be preferable to the well-known Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which is available in forty-eight of the fifty states.

Let’s first look at where DTSA and the UTSA appear the same or similar.  Both statutes provide nearly identical definitions of trade secrets and misappropriation.  Both also offer similar remedies for injunctive relief, actual damages, unjust enrichment, reasonable royalties, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. READ MORE

Gyms, Romance, and Reality TV: Rethinking What Qualifies As Trade Secret Theft

When you think of gyms, romance, and reality TV, what’s most likely to come to mind is an episode of Jersey Shore — not a lawsuit for trade secret misappropriation.  But you won’t hear about JWoww, Snooki, or The Situation in three recently-filed trade secret complaints.  These complaints reflect a growing trend in which trade secret cases aren’t limited to traditional spheres like corporate espionage or technical secrets like source code, but instead are based on creative trade secret assertions that go after competitors in unique settings. READ MORE

HTC Execs Arrested for Allegedly Selling Trade Secrets to China: Why U.S. Companies Should Take Note

The recent arrest and likely prosecution of three executives at Taiwanese smartphone giant HTC Corporation may foreshadow an era of tougher prosecutions under Taiwan’s newly amended Trade Secrets Act. Although the arrests allegedly target the leaking of Taiwanese trade secrets to China, the case could also signal changes for U.S. companies seeking to recruit talent from Taiwan.

On August 31, 2013, three top HTC product designers were arrested in Taiwan on suspicion of stealing trade secrets and submitting fraudulent expense claims after HTC filed a complaint with the Taiwan Investigation Bureau. The trio allegedly planned to set up a competing design company and stole trade secrets related to HTC’s upcoming “Sense 6.0 UI” design. In addition, they allegedly submitted false commission fees from an external design firm, although the design work was performed in-house.

An additional layer of intrigue and scandal came to light when reports surfaced that the arrested executives were allegedly passing on the confidential information to READ MORE