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.
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.”
The trial of Xiaorang You (aka “Shannon You”)—the principal research engineer accused of stealing trade secrets from several companies, including Coca-Cola—began on April 6, 2021 in the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville. Ms. You was indicted by a grand jury on February 12, 2019 for theft of trade secrets, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud. The trade secrets were valued at more than $119 million. In August 2020, a superseding indictment added additional charges related to economic espionage.
In a recent decision, an Eastern District of Texas court conducted an analysis under Federal Rule of Evidence Rule 404(b) outside the criminal context to allow evidence of “other acts” in a trade secrets litigation. The decision appears to be the first application of Rule 404(b) to a trade secrets dispute by a court in the Fifth Circuit. READ MORE
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
Often companies are faced with a dilemma in protecting their IP—should the company disclose its IP to the world and seek a patent that will protect its IP for a set number of years? Or, should the company keep the IP a secret perpetually and protect it through state and federal trade secret laws? The answer is typically not one or the other; but, instead, a complex combination of the two. This article outlines a few thorny issues that can come up when balancing these two types of IP protections: READ MORE
Trade secret protections are a powerful tool for companies seeking to police international theft of their intellectual property. READ MORE
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
This May was the fourth anniversary of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), signed into law by President Obama on May 11, 2016. The DTSA does not preempt state laws and plaintiffs can still bring cases under their state’s trade secrets law, but the DTSA has played a big role in the increased number of trade secret cases in recent years. According to Lex Machina’s Trade Secret Litigation report, which covered federal district court data from 2010 to 2019, the DTSA caused a 30% increase in trade secret case filings between 2015 and 2017 and those numbers have remained steady. READ MORE
Last week, we examined the recent Third Circuit decision in Advanced Fluid Systems, which held that a trade secrets plaintiff did not need to be an owner or a licensee of the alleged trade secrets to bring a state law misappropriation claim under Pennsylvania’s UTSA—all that was required was that the plaintiff had “lawful possession” of the trade secrets. In so holding, the Third Circuit added to the weight of the Fourth Circuit’s similar analysis of Maryland’s UTSA in DTM Research, L.L.C. v. AT&T Corp., 245 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 2001).