Employee non-compete agreements have long played an important role in employers’ ability to protect confidential and trade secret information. However, recognizing the distinct advantage employers often enjoy in negotiating such agreements, there has been a well-documented trend in recent years toward greater scrutiny of—and even hostility toward—employee non-competes.
Replacing the Words “Trade Secrets” with “Confidential Information” Does Not Allow a Party to Bypass Its Obligations Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2019.210
In a recent discovery dispute before the Northern District of California, Plaintiff Monolithic Power Systems, Inc. (“Monolithic”) unsuccessfully attempted to bypass California Code of Civil Procedure section 2019.210 which requires the party making a claim of trade secret misappropriation under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”) to identify the trade secret “with reasonable particularity” before “commencing discovery relating to the trade secret.”
Profiting off Public Panic – Abbott Laboratories et al v. Brown
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in fraud by wrongdoers seeking to profit off public panic and strained resources. One such example is asserted in the lawsuit filed by global health care company Abbott Laboratories (“Abbott”) against its former employee Justin Brown in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In the Complaint, Abbott alleges that Brown stole Abbott’s customer information and fraudulently represented that he was selling Abbott’s COVID-19 diagnostic products. READ MORE
This Trade Secret Suit Doesn’t Infringe on Free Speech
Can defendants use anti-SLAPP statutes to dismiss meritorious trade secrets misappropriation lawsuits? A recent decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas suggests not.
Numerous states have passed some form of anti-SLAPP legislation to prevent parties from using litigation as a tool to silence individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights. Texas, in particular, enacted the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”) back in 2011 to “protect citizens from retaliatory lawsuits that seek to silence or intimidate them for exercising their rights in connection with matters of public concern.” The TCPA provides an avenue for individuals to summarily dispose of such lawsuits designed to chill their First Amendment rights. READ MORE
Indirect Competition Enough to Enforce Non-Compete Against Former CEO in Pennsylvania
In the midst of nationwide efforts to reform the use of non-compete restrictions, a recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania illustrates the broad approach courts may take when enforcing restrictive covenants against high-level executives. READ MORE
Pleading “Sufficient Particularity”: Technical Trade Secrets Require More
It’s common sense that, to protect a trade secret, the information must remain secret. However, when trade secret misappropriation claims arise and litigation ensues, the court and the parties involved need to understand at least the broad confines of the alleged trade secret. While the Federal pleading standard for a plaintiff’s complaint is the same regardless of what the trade secret may be—namely, that the plaintiff include sufficient particularity of the trade secret’s subject matter—what constitutes “sufficient particularity” will depend on the type of information alleged to be a trade secret. AlterG, Inc. v. Boost Treadmills LLC, a recent decision in the Northern District of California, highlighted this fact when the court found the plaintiff had adequately pleaded facts to describe one trade secret, but failed to do so for another. READ MORE
Global Reach: U.S. Federal Rules Provide Assistance for Discovery in Foreign Matters
Imagine the following scenario: Your company has filed several lawsuits around the world, all concerning generally the same subject matter, but against different parties because of jurisdictional limitations. The litigation overseas is subject to discovery rules that are far more limited than those available in the United States. The U.S. litigation has been stayed pending the result of the foreign matter. However, important information and witnesses that are useful in prosecuting the foreign litigation are located in the U.S., outside of the foreign court’s jurisdiction and applicable discovery rules. In this complex situation, is there any way to obtain that critical bit of information? Or can the U.S. witnesses evade all production and testimony because of jurisdictional bounds? READ MORE
On Eve of US Independence Day, UK High Court Gives Insight on Employee Independence in Noncompetition Agreement Case
Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd., the first employment competition case to reach the UK’s highest court in over a century was decided on July 3, 2019, changing the landscape for noncompetition agreements in the UK.
Making Memories: Trade Secrets Need Not Be in Tangible Form to Be Protectable
Developments in technology have led to advanced ways of protecting trade secrets. In an age where passwords, metadata, and paper trails are often the stories told to demonstrate misappropriation, it may seem that trade secrets must be reduced to a tangible form to be protected. However, a recent Oregon Court of Appeals opinion reminds us that this is not the case—if information is maintained as a trade secret it is equally protected regardless of form. READ MORE
Spring Cleaning: Tidying Up Your “Reasonable Efforts” to Maintain Trade Secrets
It’s among an in-house counsel’s worst nightmares. A former business partner, ex-employee, consultant, or competitor has stolen your company’s trade secret information. Company management demands swift action. You hire outside counsel who, after reviewing your company policies and interviewing stakeholders, tells you that he or she is concerned about being able to establish that your company took “reasonable efforts” to protect the information. Listening to the feedback, you realize with a sinking feeling that these were steps that you, as in-house counsel, may have been able to implement if you had only thought about the issue sooner. READ MORE