I am honored to be presenting the Year in Review for Trade Secrets Law at the plenary session of the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s 2017 Annual Meeting this Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

I will be covering significant trade secret developments from the past year, including a discussion of key rulings in the Waymo v. Uber Technologies case, developments under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), including recent cases addressing the ex parte seizure order, whistleblower protection and restrictions on injunctions involving employment.   I hope to also cover the recent American Bar Association Ethics Opinion reinforcing lawyers’ obligations to protect trade secrets, as well as other noteworthy rulings and opinions.

Registration for the Annual Meeting can be found here.   Hope you can join us.

I am very excited to announce that I have been invited to speak on trade secret issues for the 27th All Ohio Annual Institute on Intellectual Property in Cincinnati and Cleveland this week.  For those in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana who may be interested in attending, I will be providing a presentation entitled “What Driverless Cars, Solar Panels and Tapping Robots Can Teach Us About Trade Secrets Law” this Wednesday, September 13, 2017 in Cincinnati and Thursday, September 14, 2017 in Cleveland.

The All Ohio Institute is sponsored by the Cincinnati Bar Association and Cleveland Intellectual Property Law Association, with the cooperation of the Cincinnati Intellectual Property Law Association and the Dayton Intellectual Property Law Association.  The Cincinnati presentation will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 1 West River Center Blvd., Covington, Kentucky.  The Cleveland presentation will also start at 8:30 a.m. and will be held at the Marriott Downtown at Key Center, 127 Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio.

I will be covering noteworthy developments under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), including the forces that led to its enactment, its legislative history, the DTSA’s key provisions, and recent cases involving the DTSA’s ex parte seizure order, whistleblower provision and injunctions involving employment, as well as its interplay with Ohio’s state trade secrets law.   I will also cover some of the other big developments in trade secrets law, including the Waymo v. Uber case, the recent American Bar Association opinion reinforcing lawyers’ obligations to protect trade secrets, and other noteworthy rulings and opinions.

Registration for the presentation can be found here.  Hope you can join us for what should be a very interesting seminar.

Here are the noteworthy trade secret, restrictive covenant and cybersecurity posts from the month of August (warning, there are a lot):

Defend Trade Secrets Act

  • Munger Tolles’ Miriam Kim, Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke and Laura Smolowe have put together another fine summary of the trends they are tracking under the Defend Trade Secrets Act.  There are several interesting findings in the summary.  For example, state courts and state law remain the preferred forum and substantive law for trade secrets claimants, at least at this time.  According to the summary, while 378 DTSA cases have been filed in federal and state courts, more than 515 complaints with trade secret claims have been filed with no DTSA claims in federal and state courts throughout the U.S.  I have to admit that I was surprised by this finding, as I expected that litigants would be eager to secure a federal forum using the DTSA.  I suspect that most of those state law cases involve restrictive covenants and that the plaintiffs are more comfortable with a local judge enforcing a non-compete or want to avoid entanglements arising from the DTSA’s limitations on injunctions.  Or it might be that they simply want to go with the law they know best, which would be the more developed state trade secret law regime.  In any event, a very interesting finding.
  • One of the more recent (and unexpected) developments under the DTSA has been the number of motions to dismiss challenging DTSA claims.  Olga May has a post for Fish & Richardson’s Litigation Blog detailing those decisions on those motions, which range from challenges to the specificity of the trade secrets pleaded to whether the complaint comports with the standards under Twombly and Iqbal.
  • For an update on the modest number of ex parte seizure order filings under the DTSA, see Michael Renuad of Mintz Levn’s article in the National Law Journal.

Continue Reading Monthly Wrap Up (Sept. 8, 2017): Noteworthy Trade Secrets, Non-Compete and Cybersecurity Posts from Around the Web

Two federal courts have issued important rulings scaling back the use of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. 1030, et seq., for alleged violations of online agreements.  These decisions are noteworthy in the trade secret area because employers and businesses have used the CFAA when they believe that a former employee or competitor has improperly accessed their electronic records.  In the first decision, EarthCam, Inc. v. OxBlue Corp., et al., 2017 WL 3188453 (11th Cir. Aug. 1, 2017), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a claim that a competitor’s access of a customer account violated the CFAA (a link to the opinion can be found here).  And in the second, hiQ Laboratories, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., Case No. 3:17-cv-03301 (EMC) (N.D. California Aug. 14, 2017), Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that a violation of LinkedIn’s online terms and conditions did not support a CFAA claim.  (A link the opinion can be found here).  Judge Chen’s opinion is particularly noteworthy because it appears to depart from some of the reasoning of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that allowed Facebook to invoke the CFAA.  As explained below, these rulings may signal a growing judicial reluctance to allow the CFAA to be used to limit otherwise publicly-available information.

Continue Reading Two Important Rulings Scale Back the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act for Violations of Digital Service Contracts

A recent decision by U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois addresses a very timely and novel question:  can a website provider enforce the equivalent of a covenant not compete through an online clickwrap agreement?  In TopstepTrader, LLC v. OneUp Trader, LLC, Case No. 17 C 4412 (N.D. Illinois June 28, 2017), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois rejected one website provider’s effort to do just that, reasoning that the provider was attempting to use its website’s terms and conditions to improperly restrict competition under Illinois non-compete law.  The opinion, which can be found here, may prove to be a significant one as courts wrestle with the enforceability of online terms of condition that may limit competition or the use of information publicly available through those websites.  (A shout out to Evan Brown’s Internet Cases for first reporting on this case). Continue Reading Can A Website Provider Use A “Clickwrap” Agreement to Enforce A Non-Compete?

Here are the noteworthy trade secret, restrictive covenant and cybersecurity posts from the past month or so:

The Defend Trade Secrets Act

  • The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has found that certain deer registry information qualified as a combination trade secret under the DTSA and Oklahoma’s version of the UTSA, as explained by Michael Weil and Tierra Piens for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch blog.
  • The issue of whether the DTSA applies to misappropriation that may have taken place prior to the DTSA’s enactment has been one of the more frequent areas of litigation under the DTSA.  Jonathan Shapiro of Epstein Becker has a summary on these cases for Law360.

Continue Reading Monthly Wrap Up (July 31, 2017): Noteworthy Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts From Around the Web

A recent opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has stirred up a hornets’ nest of commentary because it appears to recognize the viability of the inevitable disclosure doctrine under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).  Those familiar with the DTSA will recall that the inevitable disclosure doctrine was supposed to be prohibited under the DTSA because of California Senator Diane Feinstein’s concern that the doctrine might be enforced against California residents.  Now, in what appears to be the first federal appellate court opinion construing the DTSA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit may have further muddied the waters about the inevitable disclosure doctrine in Fres-co Systems USA, Inc. v. Hawkins, Case No. 16-3591, ___ Fed. Appx. __ (3rd Cir. 2017), 2017 WL 2376568 (June 1, 2017) (a link to the opinion can found here). Continue Reading Fres-co Systems v. Hawkins: Did The Third Circuit Just Create More Confusion Around The DTSA’s Ban On The Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine?

Given the increasing number and quality of fine posts about trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity issues, I am resurrecting my regular updates post  (although it will be monthly rather than weekly).  Without further adieu, here are the noteworthy posts of the past month:

Defend Trade Secrets Act:

  • With the recent passage of the 1-year anniversary of the DTSA, there have been a number of interesting posts that have detailed compilations about the cases filed with DTSA claims over the past year.    Professor David Opderbeck of Seton Hall has an interesting guest post for Patently O and Fish & Richardson’s Claire Collins, Jeffrey Schneidman and Carol Simons have some noteworthy statistics in their Litigation Blog as well.
  • Finnegan’s John Williamson, Paula Miller and Jon Self have a guest post nicely summarizing the extra-territorial reach of the DTSA and other statutes for the IP Watchdog.
  • Robert Milligan and Josh Salinas offer their take on likely developments for the DTSA in its second year in Seyfarth’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • Maxwell Goss has a post that suggests that reports of the death of the inevitable disclosure doctrine under the DTSA may be greatly exaggerated in his Law and the Creative Economy Blog.

Continue Reading Monthly Wrap Up (June 16, 2017): Noteworthy Trade Secret, Non-Compete and Cybersecurity Posts from the Web

I’ve been invited in the past to speak on trade secret issues for the Columbus Intellectual Property Law Association and I will have the opportunity to do it again this year on the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).  For those in Central Ohio who may be interested in attending, I will be providing a presentation entitled “The Defend Trade Secrets Act After One Year:  Its Impact on Trade Secret Law in the U.S. and Abroad” this Thursday, June 15, 2017.  The presentation will be at the Athletic Club of Columbus, 135 East Broad Street at 11:30 a.m.

I will be covering a number of important issues involving the DTSA, including a brief discussion of the forces that led to its enactment, the legislative history of the DTSA, the DTSA’s key provisions, and recent cases interpreting the standards for the DTSA’s ex parte seizure order, Whistleblower provision, injunctions involving employment and other noteworthy issues.   I will also cover the impact of the DTSA on trade secrets law abroad, include the EU’s Trade Secrets Directive.

Registration for the presentation can be found here.  Hope you can join us for what should be a very interesting seminar.

One of the Defend Trade Secrets Act’s (DTSA) most noteworthy features is its provision forbidding injunctions that would prevent a former employee from entering into another employment agreement.  As explained below, this provision,18 U.S.C. §1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(I), was included to preserve employee mobility and assuage concerns that covenants not to compete, as well as what is known as the “inevitable disclosure” doctrine, might be enforced by federal courts in states that have rejected their enforceability.  Today’s post looks at the legislative history of that provision and how courts have interpreted it. Continue Reading The Defend Trade Secrets Act After One Year: Injunctions Affecting New Employment