Posts by: Michael Disotell

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

The Spies Who Loved Me (And My Trade Secrets): A Brief History of Industrial Espionage

With Chinese cyber attacks, data security, and industrial espionage occupying more and more space in the headlines, companies are re-evaluating their strategies for guarding sensitive information. There is certain to be more coverage of these issues in the weeks and months ahead — and as usual, we’ll bring you the news and our take on it as it breaks. But as regular Trade Secrets Watch readers know, we also sometimes like to look back at how we got to where we are today. This post examines the historical roots of industrial espionage to offer context on a hot and ever-changing area of concern for trade secrets owners.

Interestingly, the first reported case of industrial espionage involved trade secrets stolen from China, when in 1712 a Jesuit priest discovered the Chinese secret for manufacturing porcelain. He promptly sent the manufacturing details and materials samples to Europe, where they were shared with European merchants.

Another early example of industrial espionage came about in the late eighteenth century, when France found itself attempting to compete with the emerging industrial strength of Great Britain. The French government surreptitiously placed apprentices in English iron and steel yards to abscond with production formulas. To maintain its market dominance, Britain became the first country to pass legislation aimed at preventing industrial espionage.

In the United States, READ MORE

FOURTH OF JULY EDITION: Family Fireworks: Plot to Steal Client Lists Goes up in Smoke

fireworks220For many, Fourth of July festivities wouldn’t be complete without a baseball game, a family barbecue, and of course, fireworks.  But for one family-operated fireworks company in California, its members had an unhappy reunion in court when a great-grandson’s decision to leave the family business exploded into a dazzling dispute over trade secrets.

According to court papers, Manuel de Sousa and his family immigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area from Portugal in the early 1900s and set up a fireworks business for local Portuguese community celebrations.  Manuel eventually passed the family business to his son Alfred, who then passed it on to his grandson Bob.