Observers following the legal issues surrounding the prosecution of David Nosal will be watching closely in 2015 as the former Korn Ferry executive returns to the Ninth Circuit to appeal his 2013 conviction on three counts of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. READ MORE
It’s been a hot year in the trade secrets field, with some huge verdicts and settlements, a renewed spotlight on cyberattacks, and an unusual flurry of trade secrets legislation. Trade Secrets Watch’s 2013 Year-in-Review highlights the notable trade secrets activity from the past year. READ MORE
The U.S. Department of Defense issued final rulemaking on November 18, 2013 that will require DOD contractors to protect from attack confidential technical information on their computer systems, and to report and cooperate with DOD in the event that this information is compromised through a cyberattack. The rules come nearly two years after draft rules were first announced and in the midst of continuing public concern about the threat of state-sponsored trade secrets theft. READ MORE
When Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the Silicon Valley Democrat, introduced a pair of bills last month on trade secret misappropriation, we puzzled over her purpose. Was this a response to the White House’s call for improved federal legislation to protect U.S. trade secrets? Did the measures mark the start of a comprehensive federal civil “Trade Secrets Act” that would put trade secrets on par with other federally protected intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights?
Trade Secrets Watch decided to investigate and tapped our congressional sources for the back story. Turns out our musings were wrong.
First, a quick backgrounder on federal trade secret protection (and lack thereof): The federal government has declined to go all-in on protecting U.S. trade secrets, leaving this area primarily governed by state law. When it comes to trade secrets, federal law consists of a patchwork of acts that leave yawning gaps in legal protection. For example, the federal Economic Espionage Act, known as the EEA, prohibits trade secret theft but is solely a criminal law — it doesn’t provide for a federal civil cause of action (i.e., a right allowing private parties to sue). And the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, known as the CFAA, only covers certain types of thefts involving unauthorized access to computers. It provides for criminal prosecution and grants a victimized company the right to sue. But in a case last year (United States v. Nosal), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals interpreted the CFAA narrowly, finding that it was primarily intended to curtail hacking and that it does not bar employees from stealing trade secrets from their employers’ computers in more run-of-the-mill cases of trade secret theft. READ MORE
We previously reported on the downpour of recent trade secret activity in Congress. Last week, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.) added to the deluge by introducing two bills bearing on trade secret misappropriation: (1) the Private Right of Action Against Theft of Trade Secrets Act of 2013, a bill to amend the Economic Espionage Act to provide for a federal civil cause of action, and (2) Aaron’s Law Act of 2013, a bill to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in light of computer programmer Aaron Swartz’s suicide.
We’ve updated our primer on the recent trade secret-related legislation READ MORE
The revised post is available here.
Trade secret theft and cybersecurity are hot topics in Congress these days, spawning legislative initiatives left and right. Amid this flurry of legislation, it’s hard to keep all the bills straight. Trade Secrets Watch took a look at the legislation currently under review, and put together this primer:
|Bill||Sponsors||What’s It About?||Status|
|Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act||Rep. Mike Rogers
(R-Mich.)Rep. Tim Ryan
||Referred to the Foreign Affairs, Judiciary and Financial Services Committees.|
|Deter Cyber Theft Act||Sen. Carl Levin
||Referred to the Committee on Finance.|
|Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (“SECURE IT”)||Rep. Marsha Blackburn
||Referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.|
|Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (“CISPA”)||Rep. Mike Rogers
||The bill passed the House and was referred to the Senate but has not shown signs of advancement. We reported earlier that the Senate would not be taking up the bill and that President Obama threatened to veto the bill because of privacy concerns.|
What trends can we discern from these bills? READ MORE