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Posts by: William Molinski

DTSA Immunity: A Plaintiff’s Dream Or A Burdensome Nightmare?

If you are a regular reader of TSW, you know we have been monitoring developments relating to the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA). While the Northern District of California was the first court to enter a written opinion under the DTSA, case law is continuing to develop across the country, including in the First Circuit. READ MORE

Early Returns (Part 1 of 3): 3D Printing Company Sues under New Defend Trade Secrets Act

(Editorial Note: This is our first of a two-part series exploring recent litigation under the newly-enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act.)

In late May 2016, Magic Leap, Inc. became a pioneer in trade secrets litigation when it became one of the first to venture into the uncharted waters of the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Magic Leap—a developer of technologies used for 3D renderings in augmented reality—sued two of its former employees for trade secret misappropriation under the DTSA in federal court in the Northern District of California. As we recently reported, President Obama signed into law what some consider the “most significant” intellectual properly legislation since the Lanham Act. READ MORE

At Risk: Law Firms Bringing Bad Faith Trade Secrets Claims

Companies get anxious when key employees leave to start new ventures. A company may try to shield itself from the risk of losing confidential information by seeking an injunction preventing its former employees and their new company from using or disclosing trade secrets. However, without sufficient evidence of actual misappropriation or threat of imminent harm, a company may face sanctions for bringing a misappropriation claim in bad faith, as Trade Secrets Watch has previously discussed. Filing or maintaining a premature misappropriation action carries other risks. Currently before the California Supreme Court is a malicious prosecution claim against a law firm for pursuing a meritless misappropriation suit. Parrish v. Latham & Watkins, LLP, No. S228277 (Cal. petition for review granted Oct. 14, 2015). READ MORE

The Fine Line Between Spying and Strategy: Competitive Intelligence’s Legal Limits and Practical Considerations

Although the market trends may change faster than ever today, companies have been gathering competitive intelligence (“CI”) since the dawn of capitalism. It’s not a new concept, but there are new ways to do it—some more strategic than others.

To set the record straight, CI is not a corporate game of “I Spy.” It does not involve theft, electronic eavesdropping, hacking, bribery, or hiring a competitor’s employees to divulge confidential information. CI is the tactical gathering of market and competitor information that can be used to identify risks, opportunities, and changing conditions in an industry. READ MORE

Things to Think About Before You Leave to Work for a Competitor

An employee who leaves a company to work for a competitor can run into a hornet’s nest of legal problems.  The latest example of this classic fact pattern involves William Georgelis, a sales manager for building material manufacturer CPG International LLC.  After more than 10 years at the company, Georgelis pursued an opportunity at CPG’s competitor Snavely Forest Products.  In his job transition, Georgelis did some things that were potentially problematic: READ MORE

White House Proposal: Beef Up Anti-Hacking Laws and Resolve a Circuit Split

President Obama wants to go where the Supreme Court refused to tread.  As part of his cybersecurity and privacy initiatives, which we discussed last week, the President would strengthen the federal anti-hacking provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), including an expansion of activity covered by the statutory phrase “exceeds authorized access.”  In so doing, the President would resolve a circuit split between the First, Fifth, Eighth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits, on the one hand, and the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, on the other.  His reason?  “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families.” READ MORE

On Obtaining and Asserting Both Trade Secret and Patent Protection: The ITC and Federal Circuit Weigh In

We’ve written previously about how intellectual property owners can obtain both patent and trade secret protection in the same technology.  A case out of the Federal Circuit illustrates that IP holders sometimes choose to assert both in the same action – including, notably, in actions before the International Trade Commission (“ITC”).

Last month, in uPI Semiconductor Corp. v. ITC the Federal Circuit affirmed a finding that a defendant in a mixed patent infringement/trade secret action violated an earlier consent order.  The court found the defendant had aided and abetted its customers in importing products incorporating electrical controllers that the defendant had previously stipulated READ MORE

DEAR JUSTICE THOMAS: A Court Seal Cannot Protect My Trade Secrets, Pleads Florida Political Consultant

Florida may be the Sunshine State but there has been too little illumination into the Florida Legislature’s congressional redistricting process, according to the League of Women Voters of Florida.  In 2010, voters amended the state’s constitution to end gerrymandering in advance of the 2012 decennial redistricting.  Nevertheless, the day after the Governor approved the Legislature’s 2012 redistricting plan, the League and others challenged the redistricting process as intentionally (and therefore unconstitutionally) favoring the Republican party and incumbents and diluting the voting power of African-American and Hispanic voters. READ MORE

UPDATE: BACK FROM THE DEAD: Senators Resuscitate Legislation to Create a Federal Right of Action for Trade Secret Theft

With a powerful industrial coalition lining up behind them, two senators are trying yet again to establish a federal right of civil action for trade secret misappropriation, potentially making trade secrets an IP stepchild no more.

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014 on April 29.  As we reported in February (and as picked up today by the LegalTimes), Sen. Coons was then circulating a draft; by recruiting Sen. Hatch as a co-sponsor, he can now tout the bill’s bipartisan support.  Moreover, both are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which might help the bill’s odds of survival. READ MORE