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
T. Vann Pearce, Jr.
As a litigator of patent infringement and related matters, he has obtained judgments, dismissals, and favorable outcomes in federal district courts, the Federal Circuit, the ITC, and in inter partes review proceedings. As a counselor on patent licensing and portfolio development, Vann crafts precise strategies which minimize legal threats and capitalize on emerging industry trends. Whether resolving today’s disputes or helping his clients plan for the future, Vann understands how to lead teams to successful outcomes, on budget, and in demanding circumstances.
Like his clients, Vann approaches his work with an entrepreneur’s mindset. Vann co-founded and is Co-Chair of Orrick's 3D Printing practice. Vann frequently speaks at conferences and universities around the world about the intersection of 3D printing/additive manufacturing and intellectual property law.
Vann draws upon his technical background to quickly understand complex inventions ranging from semiconductors, to imaging and displays, to chemistry. He holds a chemical engineering degree and worked in the medical device and biotech fields before law school.
Posts by: Vann Pearce
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
Take off your eclipse glasses, close that NASA photo gallery, and stop thinking about how “path of totality” would make an awesome band name: it’s time to get back to work. As the country recovers from Eclipse Mania 2017, we take a look at some space-related trade secrets cases.
Someone might be stealing your trade secrets behind your back! A federal court found that’s what happened to Pacific Aerospace & Electronic, Inc. (PAE), a company that designs components for electronic circuitry in the aerospace and space exploration industries and whose products are used on the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Shuttle. According to PAE, the specialized nature of its business makes the identity of its customers—who are relatively few in number—critical to its business success. That’s why it was a problem when two PAE employees who had access to proprietary information about PAE’s technologies and customers left for a rival company, RAAD Technologies, Inc. One of the former employees allegedly copied backup tapes of design information weeks before leaving, and both employees allegedly compiled a list of prospective customers after leaving which they gave to RAAD’s sales representative for use in soliciting business. PAE brought a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets (among others) against these former employees and RAAD in the Western District of Washington, and moved for a preliminary injunction. The court ruled that PAE’s detailed customer information was a protectable trade secret, and that PAE risked irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction and would likely prevail on the merits of its misappropriation claim. However, the court limited the scope of injunctive relief only to future misuse of the trade secret customer list, rather than ongoing misuse—i.e., continued sales to wrongfully-acquired customers—as PAE had requested. The court reasoned that given the importance of PAE’s (and later RAAD’s) customers, public interest concerns favored permitting these ongoing business relationships and remedying any harm by an award of monetary damages.
Within days of each other, your clothing company―Free Country Ltd.―loses two employees who decamp to a rival to set up a competing apparel line. You discover that just before leaving, they transferred some 50,000 documents to a personal account—customer orders, your master contact list, and product design information. Incensed, you file a trade secrets lawsuit and seek an injunction prohibiting the thieves from soliciting your customers. Their defense amounts to, “so what if we took the documents―it’s a free country!” Easy win, right? Wrong. These are the facts of a recent trade secrets lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, in which the court denied the plaintiff’s request that its former employee defendants be prohibited from soliciting plaintiff’s customers. READ MORE
What happens when trade secret protections collide with laws granting public access to government records? This question took center stage in a recent case involving the Seattle Police Department (“SPD”). A federal district court enjoined the SPD from disclosing a software vendor’s allegedly trade secret information in response to a reporter’s public records act request. Besides serving as a reminder of the precautions that companies should take when disclosing intellectual property to public agencies, the case also raises interesting questions and strategic considerations. READ MORE
Here at TSW, we continue to watch closely the case law developing under the new Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), which attempts to harmonize divergent state laws by creating a single federal framework for trade secrets misappropriation lawsuits. The Northern District of California appears to have won the race to be the first federal court to enter a written decision under the DTSA. The early rulings in this case already give us some food for thought when it comes to litigating trade secret claims under the DTSA. READ MORE
A recent development from the 3D printing world reminds us that threats of trade secret misappropriation are more varied than cyber-espionage or the disgruntled employee taking confidential information to a competitor. With exciting new technologies come “exciting” new ways to steal trade secrets. Sometimes all it takes to steal a secret is being a good listener. READ MORE
We have written before about business collaborations gone sour that lead to trade secret misappropriation lawsuits. In a recent example, The Weather Channel convinced a court to wash away claims that its use of data from a former licensor violated trade secret laws. We can take away some useful lessons from how both parties approached this relationship and the treatment of sensitive data. READ MORE
Can a non-profit charity have trade secrets? The Red Cross thinks so. Its claim to trade secret protection over information related to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts made headlines and left some journalists and activists feeling, well, cross. But is the Red Cross’s trade secrets claim really so unusual? And what can other non-profits learn from it?
The Red Cross’s trade secrets claim grew out of a letter from the New York State Attorney General’s office seeking information on how the Red Cross spent Hurricane Sandy relief donations READ MORE