Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hassel v. Bird, a case we’ve discussed previously because it involves critical issues related to anonymous online speech and trade secrets protection. As promised, we’ll have more coverage once the court renders its decision.
In the meantime, take a look at this recent Law360 Expert Analysis (subscription required). In it, TSW co-editor-in-chief Mike Weil reports that the arguments in Hassel took place before a “hot bench” and provides an in-depth analysis of the case law in this area.
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.
On Thursday, Waymo LLC sued Uber Technologies and Ottomotto LLC in federal court in the Northern District of California for: (1) violation of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act; (2) violation of California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act; (3) Patent Infringement; and (4) Violation of Section 17200 of California’s Business and Professions Code. Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. that specializes in self-driving cars.
According to Waymo’s complaint, one of its former managers, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded more than 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary files shortly before his resignation in January 2016. Those files allegedly related, among other things, to Waymo’s proprietary LiDAR system, which, when mounted on a vehicle, “enable[s] a vehicle to ‘see’ its surroundings and thereby allow[s] a self-driving vehicle to detect traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists, and any other obstacles a vehicle must be able to see to drive safely.”
Waymo claims that it caught wind of the alleged misappropriation recently when one of its LiDAR component vendors inadvertently copied Waymo on an email depicting Uber’s LiDAR circuit board. According to Waymo, Uber’s LiDAR circuit board “bears a striking resemblance to Waymo’s own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets.”
Given the technology at issue and the players, this is a case that will be fascinating to watch. We’ll keep you posted.
In a tale of alleged betrayal and misappropriation of trade secrets in a courtroom (not) far, far away, a pioneering company in the area of special effects has sued its former employees and a vendor, claiming that they conspired to recreate the company’s primary business under a new name, erasing the evidence on the way out. The alleged tale is an illustration of how vulnerable a company and its trade secrets can be in times of ownership and business transition, especially when the company relies mostly on a single customer. READ MORE
If you’re a Star Wars fan, loyalty probably means waiting ten years for “The Force Awakens.” (Or even longer if you prefer not to count Episodes I-III). For an employee looking to leave her current employer, however, loyalty can take on a different meaning. An employee, while still employed, owes an “undivided duty of loyalty” to her employer. READ MORE
Before you include a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) claim in a trade secret case, consider carefully: was the data acquired through “unauthorized access” or was it just misused by the defendants? If it was properly accessed (but later misused), your CFAA claim, and the federal question jurisdiction that comes with it, is in jeopardy. In SunPower Corp. v. SunEdison, Inc., Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California recently dismissed the plaintiff’s CFAA claim because the plaintiff failed to allege that the data was accessed without authorization, only that it was later misused. Because the CFAA claim provided the basis for federal jurisdiction, Judge Orrick indicated that he would dismiss the entire case and not exercise pendent jurisdiction over the remaining thirteen state claims if the CFAA claim could not be properly amended. READ MORE
We’re excited to announce Orrick’s new sister blog, Trust Anchor!
Trust Anchor highlights current topics in cybersecurity and data privacy, such as recent cases, legislative and regulatory developments, emerging standards, risk management strategies, and insurance coverage. It’s not just news. Instead, it aims to review new developments and offer actionable privacy and cybersecurity intel and strategies. READ MORE
On July 28, broad bipartisan support ushered the “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015” onto the floor of both the House and Senate. This DTSA treads the well-worn path of many similar (and, to date, hapless) bills that fruitlessly preceded it. TSW has exhaustively covered prior attempts, aptly titling our first post “Pols Gone Wild: Congress Discovers Trade Secret Theft and Cybersecurity Are Problems; We Sort Through the Explosion of Legislation”—chart and all. READ MORE
Something lost is always in the last place you look (by definition). It can also sometimes be in the first.
Although technology has made it possible for outsiders to manipulate and infiltrate your company’s systems and obtain confidential and trade secret information in novel and subtle ways, a lingering, persistent threat to a company’s confidential information and trade secret comes from unhappy employees, both during the time of their employ and after separation. READ MORE
As post-Snowden America well knows, for some years now the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting bulk telephone metadata under the authority of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and aggregating it into data banks subject to government query. Under the “business records” provision of this law, the NSA has been collecting all kinds of information about the numbers you dial, how often you dial them, and how long your conversations are—and it’s been doing so for years. READ MORE