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Above the Clouds: Jeweler’s Trade Secret Spat Highlights Risk of Employee-Controlled Cloud Storage

Rendering of a Cloud computing, Cloud Computing Concept Above the Clouds: Jeweler’s Trade Secret Spat Highlights Risk of Employee-Controlled Cloud Storage

We have discussed before the importance of maintaining internal policies and procedures to protect the security and integrity of cloud-based repositories. A recent case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland illustrates that this continues to be an important issue—particularly for companies who store their crown jewels on the cloud.

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Causing a Brouhaha: Trade Secrets Disputes in the Craft Beer Industry

In recent years, the craft beer craze has taken ahold of the country and has resulted in an explosion of new microbreweries and enthusiasts. Several websites, like BeerSmith, allow users to share recipes with others; other websites, like BrewCraft, sell their recipes for home brewing.  In fact, some craft beer aficionados have even created beer trading exchanges to secure their hard-to-find favorites.  Even when a popular beer is discontinued, other microbrewers look to fill the void left on everyone’s taste buds with beers of their own.  For instance, when Russian River’s legendary craft brew Pliny the Elder was pulled from certain markets, craft brew fans raced to find similarly tasting alternatives to quench their thirst.

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“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

Diamonds Are Forever, but Joint Ventures Are Not: Court Finds Claims Preempted by CUTSA in Business Deal Gone Bad

The holiday season is officially upon us: peppermint mochas have popped up on coffee shop menus, carols ring from department store speakers, and you can’t turn on the television without seeing at least three diamond commercials. But it’s not all yuletide and merriment for those in the diamond business. As one diamond importer and wholesaler recently learned, sometimes instead of a gem you get a lump of coal—in this case, from the Northern District of California, which tossed out certain claims against a former business partner on the grounds those claims were preempted by the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act. READ MORE

Trade Secrets Unwrapped: Packaging Materials Case Demonstrates The Importance Of Keeping Confidential Information Sealed Shut

There are many ways to gain trade secret protection, but also many ways to lose it. As the recent motion to dismiss ruling in Fleetwood Packaging v. Hein from the Northern District of Illinois illustrates, how a company vacuum packs its confidential information can make all the difference between preserving it and watching it get spoiled by a competitor. READ MORE

Win At All Costs?: A Glimpse Into Trade Secrets In The Sports And Entertainment Industry

It is one of those magical times during the year when sports fanatics can enjoy three major American sports all at the same time: the MLB playoffs are in full swing; the NFL season has finally kicked off; and the NHL saw the puck drop for the first regular season game a couple weeks ago. But between the throngs of fans cheering (or booing) their teams, we at TSW wanted to take a moment to reflect on the sophisticated trade secrets disputes that are at the heart of the sports and entertainment industry. READ MORE

Filer Beware! E-Filing Error Can Destroy Trade Secret Status

First rule of thumb in trade secrets litigation? A trade secret must be kept secret. It is painfully obvious, but modern practitioners must not grow complacent due to the convenience of electronic filing. Although trade secrets law does not command absolute secrecy, a recent e-filing snafu in HMS Holdings Corp. v. Arendt offers a cautionary tale from New York on how one botched upload could jeopardize a client’s most prized possession. READ MORE

Securing your Network: Claiming Contacts as Trade Secrets

The paradigmatic trade secret is something that is obviously technical, such as source code or the formula for Coke.  Though trade secrets protection is not limited to technical trade secrets, it can sometimes be tricky to claim trade secrecy over non-technical trade secrets, such as customer or employee contact lists, that are commercially valuable yet may seem more accessible and therefore less secret.  California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2019.210 compounds the issue by requiring a plaintiff to make a detailed disclosure of trade secrets as a precondition to frame the discovery to come.  Section 2019.210 therefore immediately places an often-challenging decision upon the plaintiff—selecting what it should claim as trade secrets in litigation. READ MORE

SHREDDING TRADE SECRETS: Heli-Ski Operators Fret over FOIA Disclosures Releasing a Blizzard of Confidential Information

Heli-skiing: it’s the holy grail for thrill-seeking skiers and snowboarders.   Ride to the roof of the world aboard a helicopter.  Descend thousands of vertical feet through fresh, untracked powder.  No lift lines, no ski patrol.

This is what heli-skiers pay upwards of $1,000 per day to see.  What they don’t see is the heli-ski tour company owner, back at the office fretting over his trade secrets.

These fly-by-day firms have many of the same trade secrets concerns as the technology companies, restaurateurs, fragrance makers, executive recruiting firms and countless other businesses we regularly write about.  READ MORE

CHRISTMAS EDITION [FROM THE ARCHIVES]: Trade Secrets Litigation Delayed to Save Christmas?

On Christmas, Santa and his elves have their work cut out for them and sometimes even they can use help to get their jobs done. During the holiday season, a variety of businesses assist Santa & Co. to import and distribute Christmas merchandise and other seasonal goods to retail stores in time for the holidays. Unfortunately, those companies can be as susceptible to a trade secrets dispute as anyone else, and one year just such a dispute threatened to put a damper on Christmas. READ MORE