Blockchain: not just a platform for cryptocurrency but a potential method for protecting trade secrets and other IP

Cryptocurrency has dominated the attention of the financial world for most of the past 12 months as Bitcoin’s value (as well as other cryptocurrencies’) soared over 1,500% in 2017 (though it has experienced some recent volatility).  While investors are happy to see their wallets growing, companies should be excited about the technology underlying most cryptocurrencies – blockchain – which has the potential to create a competitive advantage in trade secrets protection.

READ MORE

Automation of Our Auto Nation: New Tech Requires a New Look at Trade Secret Laws

Self-driving cars—once a thing of the future—are now becoming a reality. And, as with any new technology, there is a learning curve. Once consumers are able to test out new products, they adapt, preferences change, and what once seemed absurd or over-the-top becomes commonplace. Manufacturers then face perhaps an even steeper learning curve, trying to stay one step ahead of what the public will demand—and two steps ahead of the competition. READ MORE

David Nosal Raises Unusual Fairness Argument in Yet Another Attempt to Avoid 366-Day Prison Sentence

Just over four years ago, in January 2014, a court sentenced former Korn/Ferry regional director David Nosal to one year and one day in prison for violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Espionage Act.  Nosal appealed the sentence, but his appeals ultimately failed: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld Nosal’s sentence, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the case.  Luckily for Nosal, his 2014 motion for release pending appeal was granted, so he has not served any time during the four years of appeals. READ MORE

Upon Reflection, Some Trade Secrets May Be Less Secret Than They Appear

A recent case in Florida is a reminder that when dealing with government entities, trade secrets may be disclosed to the public, especially if that information has been aggregated.  The District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed a circuit court’s ruling ordering Broward County to produce information that Uber claimed were trade secrets.  Uber and Broward County had entered into an agreement governing Uber’s services at the airport and Port Everglades.  Part of the agreement required that Uber provide Broward County with monthly self-reports.  These reports contained both aggregated data and granular data.  The aggregated data was comprised of the total number of pickups and drop-offs at the airport and seaport, multiplied by the fee in each of those zones.  The granular data included a time stamp, longitude and latitude of pick-ups or drop-offs, and the first three characters of the driver’s license plate.  Per the agreement, Uber marked these monthly reports as containing trade secrets exempt from Florida’s Public Records Act, which Broward County was required to keep confidential. READ MORE

Rising Tensions as Trump Administration Prepares to Announce Results of Section 301 Trade Investigation into China’s Alleged Intellectual Property Rights Violations

As we previously reported, on August 14, 2017, President Trump signed an executive memo asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether to launch an investigation into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Later that week, after a review of Chinese laws, policies, and practices relating to IP, Lighthizer recommended and launched an investigation “to determine whether acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.” READ MORE

Making a Federal Case Out of It: What Does the DTSA’s “Interstate Commerce” Limitation Mean?

We’ve blogged a lot about the Defend Trade Secrets Act in the roughly year-and-a-half period since the law was enacted.  Our coverage has run the gamut:  from the first jury verdict under the DTSA, to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s emerging interest in trade secrets, to the once-controversial ex parte seizure provision that, so far, has been used very little in practice. READ MORE

Worse Than a Toothache: Dental Executive Alleged to Have Misappropriated Proprietary Business Leads

Earlier this month, a Nashville, Tennessee company filed a federal lawsuit against its former employee alleging trade secrets misappropriation under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, among other claims.  The plaintiff, Marquee Dental Partners, LLC, operates dental offices in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.  Marquee purchases existing dental practices and provides administrative services to those practices allowing the doctors and support staff to focus on clinic services and patient care.  In a particularly strongly-worded introductory sentence, the complaint reads: “This case shows what it means to be a faithless corporate executive.”  READ MORE

Trade Secrets and Start-Ups: What to Do When Secrets Walk Out the Front Door

Start-ups often face a complex relationship with their trade secrets. Many of the strengths of early stage start-ups, such as collaborative work among a small number of business partners and open access to proprietary information by all team members, can obfuscate clear ownership rights and confidentiality obligations concerning trade secrets. The first employees of a company will also often feel a strong sense of ownership over his work, which can sometimes lead to the employee considering work developed for the company as his property, rather than the company’s. While proprietary information is often the lifeblood of the business, it can be expensive for young companies to protect. However, there are a number of inexpensive and overlooked best practices that can safeguard trade secrets without slowing down productivity or altering the company’s culture. READ MORE

Pushing the Envelope: Eight Circuit Seals the Fate of Envelope Company’s Trade Secret Claims

On December 8, 2017, the Eighth Circuit rejected trade secrets and other claims related to allegedly stolen customer lists.  Applying Missouri state law, the federal appellate court continued the Show-Me State’s tradition of looking at customer list trade secrets with a jaundiced eye. READ MORE

THANKSGIVING EDITION: Looking Back at Turkey Trade Secrets in the US and Understanding Employer Remedies in the UK

As our United States readers prepare for the holiday weekend, we look back to a post from the archives where we dished about franchise relationships gone awry and a trade secrets dispute over turkey sandwiches.  The takeaway:  Savvy franchisors should consider revisiting their agreements with an eye toward gaining admissions from franchisees that certain materials constitute trade secrets.

And while our readers in the rest of the world wrap up the work week, companies in the United Kingdom may have a reason to be thankful.  As our colleagues over at the Employment Law and Litigation blog discuss, a recent High Court decision granted an order allowing an employer to image a departing employee’s computer to see if it contained confidential information.

This post is a good read not only for those in the UK but for any company interested in protecting its trade secrets and confidential information.  For example, the post includes this tip, which has fairly broad impact:  You will be more likely to persuade a court to rule in your favor if you offer limitations and controls in the carrying out of a forensic search of a computer or other device.