Bad Faith Prosecution

At Risk: Law Firms Bringing Bad Faith Trade Secrets Claims

Companies get anxious when key employees leave to start new ventures. A company may try to shield itself from the risk of losing confidential information by seeking an injunction preventing its former employees and their new company from using or disclosing trade secrets. However, without sufficient evidence of actual misappropriation or threat of imminent harm, a company may face sanctions for bringing a misappropriation claim in bad faith, as Trade Secrets Watch has previously discussed. Filing or maintaining a premature misappropriation action carries other risks. Currently before the California Supreme Court is a malicious prosecution claim against a law firm for pursuing a meritless misappropriation suit. Parrish v. Latham & Watkins, LLP, No. S228277 (Cal. petition for review granted Oct. 14, 2015). READ MORE

Trade Secret Plaintiff Goes Three Rounds, Takes a Beating

Last week, New York attorney Douglas R. Dollinger asked the Honorable Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California to reconsider an order sanctioning Dollinger and his client to the tune of $93,365.92 in monetary sanctions and dismissing all of the client’s claims with prejudice as terminating sanctions. The Court’s sanctions, and Dollinger’s request for reconsideration, are the result of a series of attempts by Plaintiff to manufacture standing for a company that didn’t exist. Plaintiff tried on numerous occasions to identify a company with standing, but was repeatedly countered by Defendants and eventually pounded with both monetary and terminating sanctions. READ MORE

Know When to Fold ‘Em: Avoiding Bad Faith When Litigating Trade Secrets Cases

In his classic song The Gambler, Kenny Rogers famously advised: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” It’s good guidance for surviving a poker table, but also important to plaintiffs prosecuting trade secret claims.  Understanding your evidence — or lack thereof — can mean the difference between winning or losing and having to pay your opponent’s attorneys’ fees.

In the recent case of All American Semiconductor LLC v. APX Technology Corp., a California appellate court affirmed a trial court’s award of $200,000 in attorneys’ fees against a plaintiff for prosecuting a trade secret case in bad faith.  Though the case is not published, it is a good reminder that aggressively pursuing and maintaining trade secret claims based on speculation and suspicions, without strong evidence, can have serious consequences.

California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act provides for attorneys’ fees when a plaintiff has brought a bad-faith trade secret claim.  It states: “If a claim of misappropriation is made in bad faith, a motion to terminate an injunction is made or resisted in bad faith, or willful and malicious misappropriation exists, the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party.” READ MORE