How can you protect your trade secrets from a vast and well-concealed international effort to steal those secrets? What constitutes a “reasonable” effort to protect that information where at least one competitor may already have the information? The Ninth Circuit recently opined on these matters in the ongoing saga of U.S. v. Liew.
In 2014, Walter Liew and his company, USA Performance Technology, Inc., were convicted of multiple offenses, including claims under the Economic Espionage Act and conveying misappropriated trade secrets to a third party. The trade secrets related to DuPont’s technology for producing titanium dioxide, which is used in a wide range of products such as paint and Oreo cookies. READ MORE
Companies often seek to protect their trade secrets by requiring employees to sign non-compete agreements. California law invalidates such provisions except in very limited circumstances. See Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 16600 et seq. With the recent passage of a new statute, the ability of employers to enforce such agreements against California employees is more restricted than ever. READ MORE
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
The Obama Administration’s focus on criminal trade secret prosecutions under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA) highlights the legal complexities at the murky intersection between criminal and civil jurisprudence in trade secrets cases. As we previously discussed, when it comes time for sentencing, determining the “value” of the stolen trade secrets is often difficult—and courts have applied different valuation models. READ MORE
On November 17, 2015, the Sixth Circuit held in an unpublished opinion that “confidential” information that does not otherwise qualify as a trade secret may nevertheless be protected contractually in nondisclosure or non-compete agreements under Texas contract law. READ MORE
With stories of cyberattacks and data breaches on a seemingly endless loop, businesses and governments have been doubling down on their efforts to protect digital information and assets. But, in some industries, the greatest threat might still be a pair of quick hands. For instance, in the restaurant industry, opening the kitchen doors to a new employee creates real risks. As we’ve discussed, sometimes the decision whether to print or download can have major legal ramifications. And with computer forensics technology growing in leaps and bounds, sometimes an old-school paper trail might be more enticing to would-be perps than a digital one. That said, the FBI has a track record of turning up bags of shredded documents in grocery store dumpsters. READ MORE
In January of this year, we noted that trade secret protection has lately been on the minds of lawmakers in Washington, and that federal trade secret legislation was very close to being enacted. While nothing is pending at the moment, we can expect renewed efforts similar to two bills that were introduced in Congress last year – one each in the Senate and House. In anticipation of such efforts, we thought it would be useful to review what happened in 2014. READ MORE
As we’ve previously discussed, a patchwork of state regulations requiring disclosure of chemicals used in fracking have been enacted by several states in recent years. One such regulation was by the State of Wyoming. While environmental groups initially lauded Wyoming’s new rule, the applause was short-lived as the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission began granting trade secret exemptions that prevented disclosure of this information to the public under the state public records act. This led the environmental groups to sue the Commission. After nearly three years of litigation, including an appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court, the parties reached a settlement that was approved by the state district court late last month.
Ah, October: the time of crisp fall air, brightly colored leaves, and pumpkin spice-flavored everything. And, of course, the World Series quest that can unite a city—or, in the case of Orrick’s San Francisco and Washington, D.C. offices, give rise to a friendly wager (sorry, D.C.!). In honor of the baseball playoffs, we take a look at some trade secret issues related to our national pastime.
North Carolina is officially open for fracking, after lifting a ban on the practice—and enacting criminal penalties for spilling trade secrets associated with it. With passage of the Energy Modernization Act, North Carolina joins the growing ranks of states that have legislated to protect confidential fracking information.
North Carolina’s new law prompted us to update our chart summarizing the key provisions of similar legislation in other states. It can be seen here. READ MORE