Confidentiality Agreements

Blast From The Past: A Look Back At Lessons Learned

This week, TSW revisits some cases that taught us valuable lessons in the complex and ever-changing trade secrets arena. As our readers know, trade secrets law keeps evolving due to new case law and the near certainty of a new federal cause of action, which will provide for federal jurisdiction where there was none, consistency throughout the country on enforcement of these claims, and a couple of new remedies. The risks to trade secret protection also continue to grow due to cybersecurity and social media considerations. In short, a business must balance several factors when determining how to best protect trade secrets, but it is sometimes the simple missteps that can sink a company’s efforts to enforce its trade secrets. Here are some key takeaways learned over the years. READ MORE

The Gloves Are Off: Competing Biopics Battle For Hollywood Purse

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

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

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Trade Secret? Idaho Supreme Court Rules Against Appellant Waste Disposal Company In Bid to Protect Contract Proposal As Trade Secret

In a case more notable for the fact that it reached Idaho’s Supreme Court than the final decision, the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff waste disposal company’s misappropriation of trade secrets claim was affirmed.

In July of 2012, the defendant County of Idaho (“the County”) solicited proposals for a contract to provide waste disposal services to part of the county that was being served by the plaintiff Walco, Inc. (“Walco”). Both Walco and the other defendant, Simmons Sanitation Service, Inc. (“Simmons”), submitted envelopes containing their respective proposals. 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

For Here or To Go? Senators Introduce Bill to Ban Noncompete Agreements, Increase Mobility For Sandwich Makers and Other Low-Wage Workers

Congress is getting into the non-compete business.  Citing the use of non-compete agreements by companies such as Jimmy John’s sandwich shops, Senate Democrats recently introduced a bill—called the Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees (MOVE) Act—that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to prohibit the use of non-compete agreements for low-wage employees. 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

Things to Think About Before You Leave to Work for a Competitor

An employee who leaves a company to work for a competitor can run into a hornet’s nest of legal problems.  The latest example of this classic fact pattern involves William Georgelis, a sales manager for building material manufacturer CPG International LLC.  After more than 10 years at the company, Georgelis pursued an opportunity at CPG’s competitor Snavely Forest Products.  In his job transition, Georgelis did some things that were potentially problematic: READ MORE