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
On July 31, 2015, TSW continued our reporting of the continuing saga of Congress’ attempts to establish a federal right of civil action for trade secrets misappropriation by covering the introduction of the “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015” (“2015 DTSA”). The 2015 DTSA was introduced in identical form in the House (H.R. 3326) by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and in the Senate (S. 1890) by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In prior posts, we covered the introduction of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014 in both the House (the “2014 House Bill”) and the Senate and outlined the differences between the two, noting that the 2014 House Bill was much more protective of defendants facing ex parte seizure orders. READ MORE
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
On April 30, 2015, Kolon Industries finally resolved two long-standing disputes regarding its alleged misappropriation of trade secrets related to DuPont Co.’s bullet-proof Kevlar Material. The settlement resolved a six-year civil dispute with competitor DuPont, as well as an Economic Espionage Act criminal indictment that had been pending for three years. According to the terms of the plea agreement filed with the court, Kolon will pay $275 million in restitution to DuPont and $85 million to the government in fines. READ MORE
Sergey Aleynikov’s six-year odyssey through the U.S. judicial systems—both federal and state—continues. Last week, Aleynikov stepped into a New York State courtroom to defend himself at trial against a pair of criminal charges stemming from his 2009 arrest for allegedly stealing source code for one of Goldman Sachs high-frequency trading platforms. If convicted on the two counts – unlawful use of secret scientific material and unlawful duplication of computer-related material – Aleynikov could face a return trip to prison for up to eight years. READ MORE
Declaring cybercrime a “national emergency,” President Obama today empowered Treasury to freeze assets that are the fruits of cybercrime, according to an Executive Order issued this afternoon. The agency can block money or property in the United States or in the control of any United States person determined to have engaged in “cyber-enabled activities” originating or directed from outside the United States. Targeted activities include harming computer networks in critical infrastructure sectors; significantly disrupting a computer network; or causing significant misappropriation of trade secrets and other protected information. The EO also enables seizure of money or property of any persons involved in misappropriating trade secrets by “cyber-enabled means” that impact the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.
TSW is tracking the EO and will report further developments.
Orrick’s Chris Ottenweller and Derek Knerr recently took to Law360 to review recent cases involving theories of third-party liability for trade secret misappropriation. New employees are one obvious source of potential liability if they bring to the job information obtained from their prior employer. But in recent years companies have also increasingly faced suits based on relationships with contractors and vendors. Chris and Derek offer some practical considerations to help companies mitigate potential liability in the first place.
A recent Justice Department reorganization of its National Security Division concentrates resources on fighting state-sponsored economic espionage and corporate theft of trade secrets. These strategic changes focus on Justice’s ability to target and prosecute hackers and others who seek to damage national assets by means including economic espionage, proliferation, and cyber-based national security threats.
The Trade Secrets Act of 2014 (H.R. 5233) was introduced in the House by Congressman George Holding on July 29, 2014. Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH), Howard Coble (R-NC), John Conyers (D-MI), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), are cosponsors of the bill.
While the House Bill is very similar to the Bill introduced in the Senate on April 29, 2014 Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014 (DTSA) (S. 2267), there are some major differences between the two. Specifically, the House Bill is much more protective of defendants facing ex parte seizure orders. READ MORE
Last month, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions of co-conspirator couple Yu Qin and Shanshan Du, who were convicted in 2012 of trade secrets theft. A jury in the Eastern District of Michigan had found that Du absconded with GM’s proprietary documents, passing them to Qin, who then used them to start his own business.
The trade secrets comprised the specially engineered and highly complex “motor control source code” of a hybrid car—the program that directs how and when the electric motor of a hybrid car runs. The jury bought the government’s argument that the hybrid car secrets were on their way to China via Qin and Du, both engineers. READ MORE