Competitor Misappropriation

Aviation Contractor Glides Away From Liability After Receiving Unsolicited Email Containing Trade Secrets

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

Buried at Trial: Supplier of Earthmoving Equipment Gets Hit with $74M Verdict in Trade Secrets Theft Case

In the wake of an 8-week trial, Caterpillar Inc. has received a $74M verdict against it in the Northern District of Illinois after a jury found it guilty of exploiting a supply contract with Miller UK Ltd. to steal the company’s trade secrets. READ MORE

Win At All Costs?: A Glimpse Into Trade Secrets In The Sports And Entertainment Industry

It is one of those magical times during the year when sports fanatics can enjoy three major American sports all at the same time: the MLB playoffs are in full swing; the NFL season has finally kicked off; and the NHL saw the puck drop for the first regular season game a couple weeks ago. But between the throngs of fans cheering (or booing) their teams, we at TSW wanted to take a moment to reflect on the sophisticated trade secrets disputes that are at the heart of the sports and entertainment industry. READ MORE

Throwback Thursday: Why Trade Secret Theft Isn’t Just a Digital Problem And What Businesses Can Do About It

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

The Fine Line Between Spying and Strategy: Competitive Intelligence’s Legal Limits and Practical Considerations

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

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

Once More, With Feeling! Congress Swings for the Fences with the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015

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

Fifth Circuit Revisits Copyright Preemption of Trade Secret Law

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently revisited the issue of the Copyright Law preemption of trade secrets claims in Spear Marketing, Inc. v. Bancorpsouth Bank. The decision not only resolved the scope of Copyright Law preemption in the Fifth Circuit, but also made clear that the Fifth Circuit “join[s] the majority position” to hold that state law claims based on ideas fixed in tangible media are preempted by §301(a). The decision creates greater clarity and uniformity in Copyright Law preemption and should help litigants avoid wasting resources by filing actions based on state law claims that are preempted. READ MORE

Hacking Your Rivals – Corporate Espionage in Major League Baseball

As we approach the dog days of summer, baseball season is again in full bloom. We previously discussed old-fashioned sign stealing in the context of teams trying to gain a competitive advantage during an actual game. But it appears these hijinks have evolved in today’s electronic world. As the New York Times first reported, the FBI and Department of Justice prosecutors are investigating front-office personnel for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of Major League Baseball’s most beloved franchises, for allegedly infiltrating the internal network of the Houston Astros. READ MORE