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Posts by: Vann Pearce

“It’s a Free Country, Right?” Court Declines to Enjoin Ex-Free Country Ltd. Employees From Contacting Customers on Purloined Contact List

Within days of each other, your clothing company―Free Country Ltd.―loses two employees who decamp to a rival to set up a competing apparel line.  You discover that just before leaving, they transferred some 50,000 documents to a personal account—customer orders, your master contact list, and product design information.  Incensed, you file a trade secrets lawsuit and seek an injunction prohibiting the thieves from soliciting your customers.  Their defense amounts to, “so what if we took the documents―it’s a free country!”  Easy win, right?  Wrong.  These are the facts of a recent trade secrets lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, in which the court denied the plaintiff’s request that its former employee defendants be prohibited from soliciting plaintiff’s customers. READ MORE

PUT YOUR DOCS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM: Seattle Police Enjoined From Disclosing Software Secrets in Public Records Act Dispute

What happens when trade secret protections collide with laws granting public access to government records? This question took center stage in a recent case involving the Seattle Police Department (“SPD”). A federal district court enjoined the SPD from disclosing a software vendor’s allegedly trade secret information in response to a reporter’s public records act request.  Besides serving as a reminder of the precautions that companies should take when disclosing intellectual property to public agencies, the case also raises interesting questions and strategic considerations. READ MORE

Early Returns (Part 3 of 3): California Federal Court First to Rule Under New Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016

Here at TSW, we continue to watch closely the case law developing under the new Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), which attempts to harmonize divergent state laws by creating a single federal framework for trade secrets misappropriation lawsuits. The Northern District of California appears to have won the race to be the first federal court to enter a written decision under the DTSA. The early rulings in this case already give us some food for thought when it comes to litigating trade secret claims under the DTSA. READ MORE

Haven’t You Heard? Trade Secret Theft Can Occur in Unusual Ways

A recent development from the 3D printing world reminds us that threats of trade secret misappropriation are more varied than cyber-espionage or the disgruntled employee taking confidential information to a competitor. With exciting new technologies come “exciting” new ways to steal trade secrets. Sometimes all it takes to steal a secret is being a good listener. READ MORE

Snow Joke: The Weather Channel Zaps Trade Secrets Misappropriation Claims

We have written before about business collaborations gone sour that lead to trade secret misappropriation lawsuits.  In a recent example, The Weather Channel convinced a court to wash away claims that its use of data from a former licensor violated trade secret laws.  We can take away some useful lessons from how both parties approached this relationship and the treatment of sensitive data. READ MORE

DONATE, DON’T TELL? The Red Cross says it has trade secrets, upsetting activists

Can a non-profit charity have trade secrets?  The Red Cross thinks so.  Its claim to trade secret protection over information related to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts made headlines and left some journalists and activists feeling, well, cross.  But is the Red Cross’s trade secrets claim really so unusual?  And what can other non-profits learn from it?

The Red Cross’s trade secrets claim grew out of a letter from the New York State Attorney General’s office seeking information on how the Red Cross spent Hurricane Sandy relief donations READ MORE