A recent case from the Federal Circuit upholding a jury’s finding in favor of defendant offers lessons to both defendants and plaintiffs on preparing for trade secrets misappropriation actions. Both plaintiff, Raytheon, and defendant, Indigo, are companies in the infrared imaging equipment business. Of the four Indigo founders, three of them were former Raytheon employees, causing Raytheon to accuse Indigo of misappropriating its trade secrets. Specifically, Raytheon accused Indigo of using Raytheon’s sequential vacuum bake recipes and in situ solder seal package assembly process taken by the former Raytheon employees to develop Indigo’s recipes and processes. READ MORE
Self-driving cars—once a thing of the future—are now becoming a reality. And, as with any new technology, there is a learning curve. Once consumers are able to test out new products, they adapt, preferences change, and what once seemed absurd or over-the-top becomes commonplace. Manufacturers then face perhaps an even steeper learning curve, trying to stay one step ahead of what the public will demand—and two steps ahead of the competition. 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.
After a long political season that took many twists and turns due in part to revelations from WikiLeaks, the holiday season finally arrived. For many, that meant family traditions, time away from work, and massive amounts of college football, thanks to the current litany of televised bowl games.
Hollywood’s heavy-hitters often enter the ring over unauthorized biographies. Elizabeth Taylor famously invoked her rights of publicity and privacy in an attempt to shut down an unofficial docudrama about her life; Clint Eastwood sued the author and publisher of his unsanctioned biography for libel; and a film production company brought claims for copyright and trademark infringement against the producers of the biopic Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried. Hollywood’s newest matchup involves misappropriation of trade secrets, a growing concern in the entertainment industry, especially after the recent Sony hack. READ MORE
If a third party sends you someone’s trade secrets, and you delete them as soon as you know they’re trade secrets, you’re off the hook for misappropriation.
That, in a nutshell, is what a Florida federal judge held on January 14, when he dismissed Dyncorp International LLC’s allegations that rival contractor AAR Airlift Group, Inc. stole trade secrets to gain an unfair advantage in securing a multibillion-dollar government contract. The contract, which Dyncorp had performed for more than 20 years, was to provide aviation support to the U.S. State Department for its counter-narcotics operations. READ MORE
With stories of cyberattacks and data breaches on a seemingly endless loop, businesses and governments have been doubling down on their efforts to protect digital information and assets. But, in some industries, the greatest threat might still be a pair of quick hands. For instance, in the restaurant industry, opening the kitchen doors to a new employee creates real risks. As we’ve discussed, sometimes the decision whether to print or download can have major legal ramifications. And with computer forensics technology growing in leaps and bounds, sometimes an old-school paper trail might be more enticing to would-be perps than a digital one. That said, the FBI has a track record of turning up bags of shredded documents in grocery store dumpsters. READ MORE
Although the market trends may change faster than ever today, companies have been gathering competitive intelligence (“CI”) since the dawn of capitalism. It’s not a new concept, but there are new ways to do it—some more strategic than others.
To set the record straight, CI is not a corporate game of “I Spy.” It does not involve theft, electronic eavesdropping, hacking, bribery, or hiring a competitor’s employees to divulge confidential information. CI is the tactical gathering of market and competitor information that can be used to identify risks, opportunities, and changing conditions in an industry. READ MORE
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
On July 28, broad bipartisan support ushered the “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015” onto the floor of both the House and Senate. This DTSA treads the well-worn path of many similar (and, to date, hapless) bills that fruitlessly preceded it. TSW has exhaustively covered prior attempts, aptly titling our first post “Pols Gone Wild: Congress Discovers Trade Secret Theft and Cybersecurity Are Problems; We Sort Through the Explosion of Legislation”—chart and all. READ MORE