Mine Your Own Business: Multinational Mining Company Seeks Protection of Alleged Trade Secrets During Discovery

Last week, multinational mining giant Rio Tinto asked a federal court in Manhattan to shield its document disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from the public eye. Unlike the typical cases we discuss involving former employees working for competitors, Rio Tinto is defending against fraud claims brought by the SEC that implicated the company and two of its former top executives. READ MORE

Employee Non-Solicitation and No-Hire Covenants? What’s the Scoop, California?

The law in California is well settled that, with few exceptions, non-compete agreements are unenforceable.  Less clear is whether and to what extent employee non-solicitation and no-hire agreements can withstand a court’s scrutiny.  These types of agreements often exist between employers and employees, as well as between employers themselves.  And while non-solicitation provisions containing broad language prohibiting direct or indirect solicitation are common, there is significant confusion over the extent of their enforceability in California.  Are these agreements enforceable?  As is often the case, the answer is “it depends.”  Fortunately, there are a handful of published appellate cases highlighting the fine distinctions that guide the analysis: READ MORE

Defining Trade Secrets: Texas Supreme Court May Soon Decide How Particular Trade Secrets Owners Must Be in Court

In every trade secrets case, the plaintiff faces the same fundamental dilemma:  In order to enforce their rights in court, they must identify (at least to some degree) the trade secrets at issue. Although California has adopted a reasonable particularity requirement by statute, how much detail plaintiffs must provide when identifying their trade secrets in litigation continues to vary state-by-state.  The answer is no clearer under federal law, as the Defend Trade Secrets Act is silent as to this issue.

Notwithstanding, the level of particularity required is an ongoing issue that courts continue to grapple with.  For example, Texas’s highest court may weigh in for the first time on the degree of specificity plaintiffs must provide when identifying trade secrets allegedly misappropriated under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA). READ MORE

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.


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