Practical Tips

In Biggest Expansion of IP Law in 70 Years, Congress Passes Defend Trade Secrets Act

Yesterday Congress passed federal trade secrets legislation (the “Defend Trade Secrets Act” or “DTSA”) by an overwhelming 410-2 vote.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the DTSA has been called the “most significant expansion” of federal intellectual property law in 70 years (since the Lanham Act was passed in 1946 to provide federal protection to trademarks). House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte said the measure “will help American innovators protect their intellectual property from criminal theft by foreign agents and those engaging in economic espionage.” READ MORE

Federal Law or Another False Alarm? Senate Passes the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 87-0. 

Relief may soon be coming for trade secrets plaintiffs longing for federal court. Last year we covered the introduction of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), compared it to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), and questioned whether federal court under this new law would be a preferable venue to plaintiffs. Since then, the bill, like the many that came before it, died in Congress. 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

Trade Secrets in the Fast Lane – Formula One and the Importance of Trade Secret Protection

For a competition to be friendly, it should be scrupulously fair.” The Formula One world was recently jolted by allegations that a former Mercedes-Benz AMG engineer took highly-confidential information in anticipation of joining Mercedes’ chief competitor Ferrari. Mercedes recently filed suit in the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom. To many in the Formula One world, the recent news is reminiscent of 2007’s “Spygate” controversy involving confidential technical data misappropriated from Ferrari. Nearly a decade later, the recent allegations underscore an important facet of Formula One: Formula One teams go to extraordinary lengths to protect their design secrets created at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. READ MORE

In China: Is Your Business Information Qualified for Protection in Trade Secrets Litigation?

Recently, China and the U.S. have reached some meaningful commitments on minimizing trade secrets misappropriation and protecting intellectual property during their Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.The commitments represent a step forward for trade secrets protection between the U.S. and China. Many U.S. companies, however, still complain that they are burdened by intricate laws and litigation regarding trade secret misappropriation in China. Here’s a primer on Chinese trade secrets law, which is often jurisdiction-specific. READ MORE

Think Before You Tack CFAA Claims on to Your Trade Secret Misappropriation Case

Before you include a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) claim in a trade secret case, consider carefully: was the data acquired through “unauthorized access” or was it just misused by the defendants? If it was properly accessed (but later misused), your CFAA claim, and the federal question jurisdiction that comes with it, is in jeopardy. In SunPower Corp. v. SunEdison, Inc., Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California recently dismissed the plaintiff’s CFAA claim because the plaintiff failed to allege that the data was accessed without authorization, only that it was later misused.  Because the CFAA claim provided the basis for federal jurisdiction, Judge Orrick indicated that he would dismiss the entire case and not exercise pendent jurisdiction over the remaining thirteen state claims if the CFAA claim could not be properly amended. READ MORE

Getting Hammered: California Trial Court Finds for E*Trade in Long-Running Misappropriation Case Where Plaintiff Destroyed the Evidence

In a fifteen-year tale of how not to protect your emerging company’s trade secrets when dealing with the big fish, on September 16, 2015, a California trial court denied a company’s bid for royalties for technology misappropriated by E*Trade in the early days of wireless trading. With multiple trials and trips to the court of appeals, and servers containing evidence being smashed with a hammer, the case underscores the importance of robust non-disclosure agreements and of thoroughly documenting your trade secrets. READ MORE

Orrick Launches New Cybersecurity Blog

We’re excited to announce Orrick’s new sister blog, Trust Anchor!

Trust Anchor highlights current topics in cybersecurity and data privacy, such as recent cases, legislative and regulatory developments, emerging standards, risk management strategies, and insurance coverage.  It’s not just news.  Instead, it aims to review new developments and offer actionable privacy and cybersecurity intel and strategies. READ MORE

Trade Secret Sauce: Trade Secrets, Not Copyright, Protect Chefs

While they say that a grand jury could “indict a ham sandwich,” the First Circuit recently reminded chefs that you can’t copyright a chicken sandwich. Specifically, a former employee of a Puerto Rican Church’s Chicken franchisee sued the franchisee for copyright infringement for the recipe to the “Pechu” sandwich, a sandwich he and his wife claimed to have created in the late-80s [1]. After hunting and pecking over the relevant authorities, the First Circuit clucked in disapproval, reminding the culinary world that the recipe for the sandwich at issue, no matter how tasty, is not copyrightable. READ MORE