International

Pooley’s Corner: Losing Secrets to Foreign Companies: How to Reduce the Risk

During a recent seminar I was asked, “What can companies do to stop the loss of trade secrets to places like China?” The questioner seemed stressed and a bit angry, perhaps reflecting a certain frustration that there may not really be an answer. Although there is no way to entirely eliminate information security risks when doing business overseas, we certainly can reduce them.

The modern commercial environment is inescapably digital and global. Long supply chains and open innovation strategies require sharing valuable information with actors in countries where legal protection systems are not robust. Companies increasingly employ foreign nationals, both in the United States and in installations abroad, and just like any other employees with knowledge of your secrets, they tend to move about. READ MORE

Supreme Court Deflates Sino Legend Cert Petition

On Monday, January 9, the Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari from Sino Legend Chemical Co., Ltd., concluding litigation that began with a Section 337 complaint filed more than four‑and‑a‑half years ago by SI Group, Inc. In January 2014, the International Trade Commission found that Sino Legend, a Chinese company, misappropriated SI Group’s rubber resin trade secrets and issued an exclusion order, barring the importation of Sino Legend products made using these trade secrets for 10 years.

The TSW has extensively covered this case with posts on the ITC Administrative Law Judge’s Initial Determination, the Commission’s decision, the Federal Circuit’s Rule 36 affirmance, and Sino Legend’s cert petition.

The case attracted the attention of the Chinese government, which filed an amicus brief in support of Sino Legend’s cert petition—the first amicus brief ever filed by the Chinese government in the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Sino Legend. The Chinese Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau (“TRB”), a branch of the Ministry of Commerce, forcefully argued that the Supreme Court should grant Sino Legend’s petition and reverse the ITC’s decision:

The TRB is disappointed by recent actions of the ITC. In wrongly interpreting Section 337 of the Tariff Act to allow the ITC to bar imports into the United States based on alleged actions conducted, and adjudicated, wholly within the borders of China, the ITC has impugned the sovereignty of China and refused to accord the comity expected of a trade partner.

TRB Brief at 2.

The TRB criticized the ITC’s “expansion” of the Federal Circuit’s TianRui decision “to bar products from entering the United States for conduct that not only occurred completely within China’s borders by Chinese citizens working at Chinese companies, but also conduct that was adjudicated in China to have been lawful.” (Id. at 1.) Citing Judge Moore’s dissent, Sino Legend’s petition also criticized TianRui as incompatible with the presumption against extraterritorial application of federal statutes.

The Supreme Court’s denial of Sino Legend’s petition for certiorari is significant because it appears to cement the extraterritorial reach of Section 337 inasmuch as the offending conduct relates to products that are imported into the United States. Thus, the ITC remains a powerful forum for companies with significant operations in the United States to seek redress for misappropriation of trade secrets. Read more broadly, TianRui and its progeny may provide the ITC with the authority to investigate other types of “unfair acts” that occur outside the United States, provided—again—that those acts pertain to products that are imported into the United States.

 

The ITC Investigation was captioned Certain Rubber Resins and Processes for Manufacturing Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-849.

The Supreme Court docket was captioned Sino Legend (Zhangjiagang) Chem. Co. Ltd. et al. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n et al., No. 16-428.

Brexit’s Potential Impact for Trade Secrets in the UK

To the surprise of many and the dismay of more than sixteen million United Kingdom voters, the previously unthinkable has occurred, the UK has voted to leave the European Union. In a tightly contested referendum, voters have chosen to end UK’s time as an EU member. Though the referendum is not technically legally binding, most expect the government to heed the voice of the people. READ MORE

Litigate Trade Secret Misappropriation Disputes in Chinese Courts

How can trade secret misappropriation disputes be litigated in Chinese courts, despite the system’s lack of US-style discovery tools? Many companies, especially foreign companies, might be hesitant to even think about bringing trade secret misappropriation actions in China for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly, based on concerns over how to collect evidence. READ MORE

Trade Secrets and Cloud Services: Is the Sky the Limit?

Germany is not only known as one of the best countries for enjoying beer and bratwurst, but it is also known as a country with some of the strictest data privacy laws on the planet. Within this environment, should companies doing business in Germany even consider using cloud services for trade secrets? They should! READ MORE

Trade Secrets in the Fast Lane – Formula One and the Importance of Trade Secret Protection

For a competition to be friendly, it should be scrupulously fair.” The Formula One world was recently jolted by allegations that a former Mercedes-Benz AMG engineer took highly-confidential information in anticipation of joining Mercedes’ chief competitor Ferrari. Mercedes recently filed suit in the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom. To many in the Formula One world, the recent news is reminiscent of 2007’s “Spygate” controversy involving confidential technical data misappropriated from Ferrari. Nearly a decade later, the recent allegations underscore an important facet of Formula One: Formula One teams go to extraordinary lengths to protect their design secrets created at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. READ MORE

A “Big Deal”: Latest U.S.-China Talks Signal Progress for Protection of Trade Secrets

Expectations didn’t appear high for the latest round of China-U.S. talks about a variety of economic issues including trade secret protection. As previously discussed at TSW, China had not signed onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and earlier this summer, the U.S. had threatened economic sanctions against China for lax cybersecurity enforcement.  READ MORE

June 29, 2015 Amendments to Article 183 of the Russian Criminal Code: Increased Liability for Disclosure of Trade Secrets in Russia

While Russia has long protected trade secrets through the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection and the Trade Secret Law, amendments to the Russian Criminal Code on June 29, 2015 now substantially increase liability for disclosure of trade secrets. Illegal disclosure of trade secrets may now result in more serious consequences, including increased fines equal to as much as three years’ wages for disclosure. READ MORE