Collaborator Misappropriation

Filer Beware! E-Filing Error Can Destroy Trade Secret Status

First rule of thumb in trade secrets litigation? A trade secret must be kept secret. It is painfully obvious, but modern practitioners must not grow complacent due to the convenience of electronic filing. Although trade secrets law does not command absolute secrecy, a recent e-filing snafu in HMS Holdings Corp. v. Arendt offers a cautionary tale from New York on how one botched upload could jeopardize a client’s most prized possession. READ MORE

The New Space Race: Protecting Trade Secrets on the Final Frontier

Space: The final frontier.  For millennia, people have wanted to explore the great unknown of outer space, and series like Star Trek and Star Wars continue to our fuel our fantasies about what lies beyond our stratosphere.  This fascination, as well as countries’ desires to maintain their military prowess, led to the First Space Race after World War II.  Today, while NASA’s dominance may have fizzled out, private companies have embarked on a commercialized space race to gain market dominance from their designs. Indeed, the House of Representatives recently passed the SPACE Act to enable commercial space mining activities. READ MORE

March Madness: Trade Secrets Claims Block Billion Dollar Bracket

For those of us who revel in this time of year as amateur “bracketologists,” last year’s promise of the billion dollar bracket brought an added lottery-like level of fun to the NCAA basketball tournament.  Even though the odds of winning were (as stated by the rules) 1 in 9 quintillion, people believed that there COULD be that one winning bracket – that is, until Memphis beat George Washington University and everyone’s perfect bracket hopes died. READ MORE

Snow Joke: The Weather Channel Zaps Trade Secrets Misappropriation Claims

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

Former Licensee Knocks Wind Out Of Sail Manufacturer’s Trade Secrets Claims

In the fiercely competitive world of professional sailing, every second matters. And, as with any sport, competitors look to gain any advantage they can by getting their hands on the latest equipment, fine-tuned to give them even the slightest advantage. This demand for the best equipment creates the same kind of competition among manufacturers, which can lead to battles over IP, licensing deals, and trade secrets.

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INCUBATE THIS: Trade Secrets Lessons From HBO’s Silicon Valley [May Contain Spoilers]

HBO’s new series Silicon Valley satirizes the tech zeitgeist born and bred in the region that is the show’s namesake by following a group of young software developers on their journey to build the next billion-dollar startup.  While it is too soon to predict whether Silicon Valley will become the next hot show that everyone can’t stop talking about, Trade Secrets Watch cannot help but spot the trade secrets issues that have popped up so far. READ MORE

Gyms, Romance, and Reality TV: Rethinking What Qualifies As Trade Secret Theft

When you think of gyms, romance, and reality TV, what’s most likely to come to mind is an episode of Jersey Shore — not a lawsuit for trade secret misappropriation.  But you won’t hear about JWoww, Snooki, or The Situation in three recently-filed trade secret complaints.  These complaints reflect a growing trend in which trade secret cases aren’t limited to traditional spheres like corporate espionage or technical secrets like source code, but instead are based on creative trade secret assertions that go after competitors in unique settings. READ MORE

The Line Between Trade Secrets and Patents: Getting Dual IP Coverage on the Same Technology

shutterstock_141712027Some might think that patents and trade secrets are mutually exclusive forms of intellectual property protection, and they would be partially correct.  After all, a trade secret is information that is kept, well, secret.  Obtaining a patent, on the other hand, requires the public filing of an application that describes the invention in detail.  It would appear then, that one could never obtain both patent and trade secret protection for any particular subject matter. But a recent lawsuit by surgeon-turned-inventor Dr. Enrico Nicolo against the New York law firm Patterson Belknap shows how, in some circumstances, these two forms of intellectual property can coexist and fill gaps in the protections each offers.

Dr. Nicolo’s case is the latest in a series of lawsuits he targeted at Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a medical device and surgical instrument manufacturer, and its representatives.  In a plotline that dates back to the 1990s, Dr. Nicolo alleges repeated, premeditated theft of intellectual property.

Dr. Nicolo obtained or applied for a number of patents covering medical device technologies and met with Ethicon representatives several times to explore a business collaboration related to his inventions.  Ethicon always turned him down, but he claims READ MORE

I Thought We Broke Up Years Ago! Why You Should “Throw Out” Trade Secrets as Soon as a Business Relationship Ends

The Fifth Circuit’s affirmance last week of a $44.4 million trade secrets award in the Wellogix v. Accenture case is a weighty reminder of the power of circumstantial evidence in trade secrets cases, and the importance of getting rid of your collaborator’s trade secrets after a co-development or joint venture project ends.

Although the oil and gas industry spends billions of dollars a year to construct oil wells, oil companies apparently clung to their practice of using paper records to track project costs.  Wellogix tried to modernize this practice by developing a computerized system for planning, procuring, and paying for “complex services” involved in such projects.  But it still needed others to perform accounting and marketing services, so it collaborated with two other companies: SAP and Accenture.

As with the most successful relationships, Wellogix remembered to READ MORE