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Posts by: Gabriel M. Ramsey

ROADBLOCK IN PLACE: Court Grants Limited Preliminary Injunction in Waymo v. Uber

Imagine preparing for that big meeting on your way to work, while you ride along in your car—without the need for a driver. What sounds like it might be out of a sci-fi movie, may actually be the not-so-distant future.  Such technology is at the center of the Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc. litigation. The self-driving technology at issue hasn’t been the only intriguing part of this case–the litigation itself has been action packed, and we’ve been watching closely. As you’ll recall from previous posts, Waymo alleged that, while working at Waymo, its star engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded over 14,000 confidential files before leaving the company to start his own competing business, Ottomoto, which was later acquired by Uber.  The twists and turns of this fast-paced litigation have included Uber’s denied petition for arbitration, Fifth Amendment invocations by Levandowski and his failed appeal, a criminal referral by Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California, and now an order granting a “limited” preliminary injunction blocking any participation of Levandowski in Uber’s self-driving car project. READ MORE

Misappropriation Versus the Copyright Act: Round 2 in the Fifth Circuit

A few months ago, Trade Secrets Watch covered the GlobeRanger Corp. case in which the Fifth Circuit joined 10 other circuits in determining that the Copyright Act does not preempt state trade secret misappropriation claims. The court used a two-prong test in its analysis, establishing that the Copyright Act could preempt a state law claim if two conditions are met: (1) if the work at issue fell within the subject matter of copyright; and (2) if the right that the litigant sought to protect was equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright. READ MORE

The Location of Old McDonald’s Beehives Are Trade Secrets: Database Showing “Realistically” Ascertainable Locations Entitled to Protection

To qualify as a trade secret under either the UTSA or the DTSA, the information in question must not be “readily ascertainable” through “proper means.” But what does “readily ascertainable” mean?  If information is ascertainable by the public, but it would take some work to compile it, does that qualify as “readily ascertainable”? READ MORE

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

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

Buried at Trial: Supplier of Earthmoving Equipment Gets Hit with $74M Verdict in Trade Secrets Theft Case

In the wake of an 8-week trial, Caterpillar Inc. has received a $74M verdict against it in the Northern District of Illinois after a jury found it guilty of exploiting a supply contract with Miller UK Ltd. to steal the company’s trade secrets. READ MORE

U.S. Considers Sanctions Against China For Cyber Hacking And Trade Secret Misappropriation

You may have missed it this past weekend, but reports indicate the United States is considering sanctioning Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their government’s alleged cyber hacking of U.S. trade secrets. The Washington Post, quoting unidentified officials, states the “unprecedented” package of sanctions is part of a larger strategy to expand the “administration’s public response to the rising wave of cyber-economic espionage initiated by Chinese hackers” and to confront malicious cyber actors. READ MORE

Fighting Back: Identifying Risks Posed by an Angry Current or Former Employee

Something lost is always in the last place you look (by definition).  It can also sometimes be in the first.

Although technology has made it possible for outsiders to manipulate and infiltrate your company’s systems and obtain confidential and trade secret information in novel and subtle ways, a lingering, persistent threat to a company’s confidential information and trade secret comes from unhappy employees, both during the time of their employ and after separation. READ MORE

Remote Controlled: Keeping Trade Secrets Safe While Employees Work Remotely

One of the biggest challenges the cyber-security field faces today—aside from outright hacking—is the fact that employees’ data is increasingly portable. Data portability can be a major boon for employers. For instance, it may allow an employer to offer its employees the ability to work remotely (something that can improve employees’ work/life balance, or could be a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability).  However, data portability can also present major risks for an employer, particularly if an employee stands to profit from misuse of that information. READ MORE

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