Melanie Phillips works with clients to create practical solutions for their data collection, management, and security practices.
Melanie advises clients in various critical areas, including incident response planning, incident response, consumer breach litigation, and regulatory enforcement actions. She has worked on cybersecurity incident and data breach investigations for a range of clients, including enterprise-wide network intrusions. Melanie also assists clients with digital crime investigations. With more than a decade of litigation experience, including in key areas of trade secret, employment, and consumer protection matters, she has a holistic understanding of the key drivers of privacy and security in organizations big and small.
Melanie has dedicated countless hours to pro bono work over her career, focused on issues relating to domestic violence. She was awarded the Honorable Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Award in 2014 in recognition of her work with the Los Angeles County Bar Association Domestic Violence Clinic. She also earned the Pro Bono Award at Orrick for her outstanding commitment to pro bono work in 2007 relating a complicated VAWA petition on behalf of an Iraqi interpreter working for the United States military.
The latest appellate decision in the nearly 20-year legal battle between Ajaxo and E*Trade highlights the importance of expert discovery and a well-developed trial court record for a plaintiff attempting to claim reasonable royalties for trade secret misappropriation.
The saga between Ajaxo and E*Trade began back in the late 1990s, with Ajaxo, a six-person company, approaching E*Trade, seeking to support its wireless access and trading business. In response, E*Trade asked Ajaxo for a technical paper and live demonstrations, during which E*Trade’s engineers peppered Ajaxo with questions. One E*Trade senior engineer, Dan Baca, made a copy of Ajaxo’s technical binder. After E*Trade sent Ajaxo a draft letter of intent—with everything but the dollar amount filled in—E*Trade had a change of heart and told Ajaxo it was simply too small to be an E*Trade partner. Instead, E*Trade acquired these services a short time later from Everypath, a company that it had been meeting with simultaneously, and where Dan Baca started to work shortly after attending the Ajaxo meetings. READ MORE
Trade Secrets Watch has been covering the escalating economic tension between China and the U.S., including the U.S. Trade Representative’s investigation on China’s alleged IP theft under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, dueling imposition of tariffs in March 2018, and the USTR announcement of products against which it proposed to impose 25 percent import duties. READ MORE
In Direct Technologies, LLC v. Electronic Arts, Inc., the Ninth Circuit set forth an interesting take on what is sufficient to demonstrate reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”). In the case, plaintiff Direct Technologies, LLC asserted a trade secret misappropriation claim against defendant Electronic Arts regarding the disclosure of its usb drive prototype for Electronic Arts to a third-party. The district court granted summary judgment for Electronic Arts, finding that no reasonable jury could find that Direct Technologies had taken reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of its prototype. READ MORE
As many loyal TSW readers know, we’ve been watching the ongoing saga involving ex-Korn Ferry recruiter David Nosal wind its way through the courts since the early days of this blog. And last month, the highly anticipated Ninth Circuit opinion in United States v. Nosal was issued on July 5, 2016 (“Nosal II”). This was the second time the Ninth Circuit had issued a ruling in the case relating to charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (the “CFAA”). In April 2012, an en banc panel dismissed five of the eight CFAA counts against Nosal (“Nosal I”). A jury subsequently convicted Nosal of the remaining three CFAA counts, as well as two Economic Espionage Act (“EEA”) counts in April 2013 and Nosal was sentenced to 366 days in prison, three years supervised release, community service, $60,000 in fines, and restitution. READ MORE
The Council of Ministers announced that the Luxembourg presidency had reached a “provisional agreement” with the European Parliament representatives regarding a new Trade Secret Directive (“Provisional Directive”) on December 15, 2015. READ MORE
How do two companies end up liable for nearly $50 million in damages relating to confidential, trade secret materials? Like many romances gone awry, this tale arose from actions taken under cover of secrecy that did not look as good in the clear light of day.
The sordid affair involved the greeting card company Hallmark, the consulting company Monitor Company Group, L.P. (“Monitor”), and a related private equity firm called Monitor Clipper Equity Partners (“Clipper”). READ MORE
Companies victimized by intellectual property theft may have a new weapon: asking state attorneys general for civil prosecution under unfair competition laws. Three states have used this tactic already—each time directed at foreign entities.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley brought the first action in 2012. The case alleged that Narong Seafood, a Thai seafood-processing company operating worldwide, was using unlicensed software programs, giving Narong an unfair advantage over local businesses. In response to this action, Narong signed an “Assurance of Discontinuance,” paid a $10,000 penalty to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and agreed to comply with the Massachusetts unfair competition statute.
California joined Massachusetts in early 2013, when Attorney General Kamala Harris sued two foreign apparel manufacturers — one Indian and one Chinese — under the state’s unfair competition statute. The complaints allege that the companies use pirated computer software programs as part of their manufacturing process, and that this piracy allows the foreign companies to save costs and gain a substantial and unfair advantage over competitors in California who pay for the software they use. READ MORE