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

Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Cases. Posts and Articles:

  • There has been an uptick in media coverage and criticism of non-competes this week, which dovetails with the growing legislative efforts in several states to limit or restrict the use of non-competes.  “More firms requiring non-compete agreements: Efforts to retain employees being tested in courts, statehouses,” reports Jonnelle Mart for The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch. Likewise, The Los Angeles Times has chimed in, “Contracts, court rulings giving employers legal upper hand: Emboldened by Supreme Court decisions and a weak job market, employers are starting to require workers to sign away their rights in return for a job.”
  • “Legally Smited Eaton Asks Supreme Court of Mississippi to Reinstate Civil Trade Secret Theft Case Against Five Former Employees,” reports Todd Sullivan in his Sullivan’s Trade Secrets and Employee Defections Blog.
  • Texas “Appeals Court OKs Extension Of Insurer’s Noncompete Deal,” advises Law360.
  • “Can Confidential Info That’s Not a Trade Secret Be Misappropriated?” asks Eric Ostroff in his Protecting Trade Secrets Blog as he discusses a recent case out of Arizona.
  • Jon Cavicchi is ramping his Trade Secrets Vault Blog back up. Check out his many new posts, including his re-posting of some valuable advice on “Implementing a Trade Secret Audit.”
  • “Is An Assigned Non-Compete Agreement Enforceable?” asks Monika Vyas Scott for Burr & Forman’s Non-Compete Trade Secrets Law Blog and she summarizes the law in states throughout the Southeast.
  • For those looking for more on the Illinois Appellate Court’s recent decision that an employee must be employed at least two years for a non-compete to be enforceable, Kenneth Vanko is not quite yet done venting about the reasoning in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services.
  • “Scientist pleads guilty in Pa. trade secrets case” reports Associated Press. Tung Pham, who was charged with stealing trade secrets from his employer to take to a competitor in China, pleaded guilty in federal court in Philadelphia to seven counts of wire fraud, prosecutors said last week.
  • “Medtech inventor claims Ethicon lawyer tricked him into divulging trade secrets” advises the Massachusetts Medical Device Journal. Todd Sullivan also provides his take on the case here.
  • For tips on dealing with whistleblowers and trade secrets, check out Robert Milligan’s post “An Employee Is Stealing Company Documents…That Can’t Be Protected Activity, Right?” for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “When An Employee Goes ‘Snowden:’ State High Court To Decide If An Employer Can Be Liable For A Rogue Employee’s Disclosure of Confidential Information,” reports Joe Wilson for Kelley Drye’s DC Metropolitan Business Law Alert.
  • “iPads and Blackberries: The Hidden Dangers for Employers,” warns Amy Dehnel for Berman Fink Van Horn’s Georgia Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Reporter.
  • For a primer on “Health Care Non-Compete Agreements,” in Tennessee, check out Cole Dowsley’s post for Thompson Burton’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Blog.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “NIST Releases Draft Outline of Cybersecurity Framework for Critical Infrastructure,” notes the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Tech Beat.
  • For two completely different takes on recent testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee yesterday, compare “China Bears Burden Of Stopping IP Theft, Panel Hears,” from Law360 with “U.S. Defenses ‘Feeble’ against Chinese Cyber Threat, Experts Testify,” from Main Justice.
  • “Report Details Data Breaches in California,” advises Cheryl Miller for Corporate Counsel.
  • “US, China kick off annual dialogue with talks on cybersecurity,” reports The Washington Post.
  • “You Aren’t Using These 10 Simple Security Settings,” laments Jess Fee for Mashable.

01042013Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Cases. Posts and Articles:

  • The reaction from the trade secret community to the recently-released Obama IP Strategy Report has been one of disappointment. Expectations soared after the Obama administration announced its trade secrets initiative in February but the recent Report barely mentions trade secrets.  In a post for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch, Michael Spillner notes the strategy’s need for a civil cause of action.  Likewise, Misty Blair of Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog observes the Report’s failure to address trade secret protection more comprehensively as “a bit of a surprise.” 
  • “Illinois Appellate Court Requires Two Years of Employment for Postemployment Restrictive Covenants” reports Stacey Smiricky and Trina Taylor of Faegre Baker & Daniels for Lexology. Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog and Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog also have posts on the decision.  And Kenneth Vanko unloads on the decision in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • In “Contractual Override of Trade Secret Law,” Dennis Crouch details a recent Federal Circuit decision in his Patently-O Blog affirming a New York federal court’s holding that a non-disclosure agreement’s requirement that confidential information be specifically designated trumped state trade secret law holding otherwise. As a result of the plaintiff’s failure to designate the information as “confidential” under the NDA, the court applied California law and held the information could not qualify as a trade secret.  Lesson?  Don’t include this language in your NDA, because in my experience, parties rarely have the time (or inclination) to designate each and every piece of information as “confidential.”
  • “Are An Employer’s Business Plans Discoverable In Non-Compete Litigation?” asks Jason Cornell of Fox Rothschild about a case in Ohio for Mondaq.
  • “New Jersey Federal Court Allows Non-Party to Employment/Non-Compete Agreement to Invoke Arbitration Clause,” advises David Walsh for Jackson Lewis’ Non-Compete & Trade Secret Report Blog.
  • “China Worries Improve Prospects Of Trade Secrets Bill” reports Ryan Davis for Law360.
  • “Chemical, oil companies fear potential EPA rule will expose trade secrets” advises Julian Hattem for The Hill.
  • “Face It: Judges Sometimes Hate Competition Cases” delivers Kenneth Vanko in a bit of hard of truth in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “Answers To Your Questions On Noncompete Agreements” provides Donna Ballman for her Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home Blog.
  • “Detecting Insider Threats to Trade Secrets” advises Catherine Dunn for Corporate Counsel.
  • If you don’t have a non-compete with a Chinese employee, don’t expect to restrain him or her advises the China Bridge IP Law Commentary Blog. In “Why China Supreme Court Agreed with Resigned Employees Establishing Competing Businesses?,” Luo Yanjie details a recent high court ruling explaining Chinese law on this issue.
  • For The Wall Street Journal’s take on the recent indictment of Chinese turbine manufacturer Sinovel, see “U.S. Looks to Blunt Corporate Espionage by Chinese Firms.”
  • “Best Practices For Enforcing Restrictive Covenants” advises Susan Trench of Arnstein & Lehr for Law360.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “Beware the Internet and the danger of cyberattacks,” warns Robert Samuelson for The Washington Post.
  • “NSA revelations throw wrench into lawmakers’ cybersecurity push” advises Brendan Sasso for The Hill.
  • “5 Ways to Boost Your Company’s Cybersecurity Strategy” recommends Catherine Dunn for Corporate Counsel.

Computer Fraud & Abuse Act Articles, Cases and Posts:

  • “You May Not Like Weev, But Your Online Freedom Depends on His Appeal” advises Wired on the appeal of Andrew Aurnheimer of his CFAA conviction.
  • “There Is Now a Split Within the District of Massachusetts over the Proper Interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” announces Brian Bialas for Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

05022013Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • “Can Business Relationships Be Trade Secrets? VA Federal Court Says No” advises Eric Ostroff in his Protecting Trade Secrets Blog. In Cablecom Tax Services v. Shenandoah Telecomms. Co., U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski dismissed a tax consultant’s trade secrets claim against its telecommunications customers, reasoning that the consultant’s alleged relationships with tax authorities, a  tax-law “accounting system,” and its ability to negotiate property tax discounts did not qualify as protectable trade secrets under Virginia’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Scott A. Schaefers also has a post on this case for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • And while we are on the topic of trade secrets cases in Virginia, are you looking for a primer on the epic DuPont v. Kolon case? Then check out the superb post analyzing DuPont’s case by Eulonda Skyles and Michael Spillner for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog.
  • Speaking of DuPont and Kolon, “Kolon Succeeds in Getting Its Trade Secret Theft Arraignment Postponed,” advises Todd Sullivan in Sullivan’s Trade Secrets Blog.
  • “Ex-Advanced Micro Workers Can’t Shake Trade Secrets Suit,” reports Law360 and Bloomberg. For more on the AMD trade secrets dispute, see my post from last month on the recent preliminary injunction restraining those same employees from misappropriating AMD’s trade secrets.
  • “Newscaster tripped up by Non-Compete,” reports Dan Frith for Frith & Ellerman’s Virginia Non-Compete Law Blog.
  • “It’s Not Just for Patents Anymore: Using the ITC to Combat Theft of Trade Secrets,” recommends Mark Memelstein and Misasha C. Suzuki for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog.
  • “Hey, I Thought We Had An Agreement: California Appellate Court Allows Party To Seek Attorney’s Fees In Trade Secret Case,” exclaims Paul Henson in a guest post for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • Jason Cornell of Fox Rothschild has another post comparing different state’s non-compete laws, this time “A Comparison Of Illinois And Florida Law Governing Non-Compete Agreements,” for Mondaq.
  • “UK Supreme Court Rules on Case Involving Misuse of Trade Secrets by Former Employee,” reports Ezra Steinhardt for Covington’s Inside TechMedia Blog.
  • Jay Yurkiw of Porter Wright continues to churn out fine posts on e-discovery issues relevant to trade secret and non-compete disputes. For his latest, see “Court Relies on Proportionality to Deny Inspection of Defendant’s Computers, Cell Phones and Email Accounts” for Porter Wright’s Technology Law Source Blog.
  • “Deter Cyber Theft Act Would Augment Federal Policy Against Industrial Espionage,” advises Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • Interested in the interplay between “Liquidated Damages and Non-Competes”? Then check out Devin C. Dolive’s post for Burr & Forman’s Non-Compete Trade Secrets Law Blog. 

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “Outside Law Firm Cybersecurity Under Scrutiny,” advises Catherine Dunn for Corporate Counsel.
  • “China’s Cyber Stonewall: Beijing won’t stop until it pays a price for its Internet thievery,” thunders The Wall Street Journal.
  • “How Vulnerable is Your Company to a Cyber Breach?” ask Clark Schweers and Jeffrey Hall for Corporate Counsel.
  • “What If China Hacks the NSA’s Massive Data Trove?” ponders Conor Freidersdorf for The Atlantic.
  • “Could Overreaction to Cybersecurity Threats Hurt Transparency at Home?” worries David S. Levine for Slate.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • In an initial skirmish that will inevitably lead to a lawsuit against the prosecutors in the Aaron Swartz CFAA case, “Judge Rejects Aaron Swartz’s Estate’s Request to Release Names of Individuals Involved in his Prosecution,” reports Hayes Hunt in the From the Sidebar Blog.

01102013Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • In yet another non-compete case involving a physician, an Illinois appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s rejection of a covenant not to compete because the employer, a medical clinic, lacked a protectible interest in the patient base at issue. Jeff Glass reports on the case, Gastroenterology Consultants of the North Shore, S.C. v. Meiselman, M.D., et al., for SmithAmundsen’s Labor and Employment Law Update. According to Jeff, the following facts caused the court to side with the doctor: prior to forming the corporation, he practiced for a decade in the area; after forming the clinic, he continued treating these patients and personally billed them, as opposed to the clinic; the clinic did not help him with advertising or marketing; and finally, his compensation depended on his independent practice.
  • “U.S., China Aim To Curb IP Theft Standoff With Talks” reports Law360.
  • Looking to protect your trade secrets under Chinese law? Then consult “Chinese Translation: Protecting Trade Secrets in China Requires Knowing Complex Layers of Laws and Practices,” by Mimiao Hu, Shelley Zang and Xiang Wang for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch.
  • “Former engineer at Bergen County based company charged with stealing trade secrets,” reports NewJersey.com. Ketankumar “Ketan” Maniar planned to relocate to India with trade secrets stolen from his employer, Becton, Dickinson and Company, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
  • For companies looking for a trade secrets lawyer, Kenneth Vanko has some fine practical advice, “The Employee’s First Client Meeting,” in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • In the sad but true column, “(Practically) No Comment: White House Plea for Public Input on Trade Secret Theft Draws 13 Responses advise L. Kieran Kieckhefer and Warrington Parker for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog. For 2 of the 13 responses, see Peter Torren’s opinion here and my submission here.
  • “New Oklahoma Law Clarifies Enforceability of Non-Solicitation of Employee Covenants” reports Daniel Joshua Salinas for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • Jason Cornell of Fox Rothschild provides “A Comparison Of New York And Florida Law Governing Non-Compete Agreements” for Mondaq.
  • “Can My Employer Enforce A Noncompete When We Get Our Customers Through Bidding?” asks Donna Ballman in her Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home Blog.
  • A New York Federal “Court Finds Potential Liability For Sending Cease And Desist Letter reports Lauri Rasnick for Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog. For more on the risks of a claim of intentional interference from a cease and desist letter, see my post here.
  • “District of Connecticut Addresses Trade Secret Act Preemption advises Eric Ostroff in his Protecting Trade Secrets Blog.
  • “Why Non-Competes are bad for the economy,” advises Laura Ellerman for Frith & Ellerman’s Virginia Non-Compete Law Blog.
  • “Public Policy Trumps Non-Compete in North Carolina,” reports Eric Welsh for Parker Poe’s Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Reporter Blog.
  • “Medical Device Manufacturer Bound By The Restrictive Covenants It Implemented,” reports Zachary Jackson for Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Non-Compete Blog.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • In an interesting Op-Ed piece for The New York Times entitled “Elizabethan Cyberwar,” Jordan Chandler Hersch and Sam Adelsberg liken the current cyber conflict between China and the U.S. to the battle for the seas between Elizabethan England and Spain, arguing that China is sponsoring cyber-pirates to level the playing field with the U.S.
  • “Facebook Urges Cooperation To Tackle Mobile Security Risks,” reports Law360.
  • “Mobile Device Forensics – Are You in the Know?” asks James Whitehead in a guest post for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • The IP Commission’s adoption of the “hack back” defense continues to stir controversy. GCN’s William Jackson asks “The hack-back vs. the rule of law: Who wins?” and Lisa Shuchman expresses concern in “IP Theft Report Offers Over-the-Top Solutions” for Corporate Counsel.
  • And The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Matthews chimes in as well, in “Support Grows to Let Cybertheft Victims ‘Hack Back.'”
  • Public Interest “Group Backs FTC Authority In Wyndham Data Breach Case,” reports Law360.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • “Recent Alleged Cyberattack By Ex-Employee Demonstrates Importance of Employer Diligence On Protecting Network Passwords,” advises Robert Milligan for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles: 
  • Last week’s report from the privately-funded IP Commission has triggered a lot of commentary on the issue of China, cybersecurity, and the international misappropriation of trade secrets. The Economist has chimed in, “Fighting China’s hackers: Is it time to retaliate against cyber-thieves?,” The New York Times has offered an Op-Ed “Preventing a U.S.-China Cyberwar,” as has Gerry Smith for The Huffington Post, “‘Hacking Back’ Could Deter Chinese Cyberattacks, Report Says.” Lisa Kilday also has a post for The IP Watchdog, as does Sophie Yu for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog.
  • For a contrarian view of the report and its authors, see TechDirt’s article, “Fear Mongering Report Suggests ‘IP Theft From China’ One Of The Biggest Problems America Faces.”
  • “A primer on the keys to a complete cybersecurity incident response plan: Inside counsel that understand cybersecurity become defenders of their companies,” advises Daniel Lim for Inside Counsel.
  • “Hackers Find China Is Land of Opportunity,” reports Edward Wong for The New York Times.
  • “FTC Fires Back In Cybersecurity Case,” reports Brent Kendall for The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.
  • “FTC Announces Information about Upcoming Mobile Security Forum,” advises Mike Nonanka for Covington’s Inside Privacy Blog.
  • Rob Radcliff provides his take on BYOD policies in his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • “Employers Must Obtain Employee Consent For BYOD Programs,” recommends Yaron Dori and Jeff Kosseff of Covington & Burling LLP for Law360.
Trade Secrets and Non-Compete Cases, Posts and Articles
  • “Kolon Asks 4th Circ. To Ax $920M DuPont Trade Secrets Award” reports Law360.  In a summary of the oral arguments before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Scott Flaherty reports that Kolon focused on Judge Robert Payne’s denial of its motion to recuse himself because of his former firm’s involvement in a patent dispute for DuPont and on what Kolon believed was DuPont’s failure to provide proof on a trade secret by trade secret basis.
  • “Illinois Appellate Court Partially Reverses Broad Non-Compete Injunction Against Physicians,” reports Molly Joyce for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Customer Lists as Trade Secrets: What Protections Are Sufficient?” asks Eric Ostroff in his Protecting Trade Secrets Blog.
  • Brian Bialas suspects that the recent AMD v. Feldstein decision by the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts may have extended the inevitable disclosure doctrine in Massachusetts. In his post for Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog, Brian notes the fact that Judge Hillman entered an injunction despite the defendants’ protestations that they had already turned over all confidential information to a third-party neutral after the lawsuit was commenced, reasoning that they, “must all remember large amounts of confidential AMD information that they learned during their employment.”  (For more on the decision, see my take here).
  • A case out of New York’s Fourth Appellate Department suggests that coupling a grant of stock options with a non-compete can be a messy affair if not done right, advises Jonathan Pollard in a recent post for the non-compete blog.
  • “Former Outback Steakhouse Employee Not Necessarily ‘Down Under’ For Allegedly Breaching Fiduciary Duty” advises Amy Dehnel for Berman Fink & Van Horn’s Georgia Non-Compete & Trade Secret News Blog.
  • In “Pennsylvania Appellate Court Orders Sanctions for Plaintiff’s Bad-Faith Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims,” Scott Schaeffers examines the recent Kraft v. Downey case for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • Rob Radcliff provides his take on BYOD policies in his Smooth Transistions Blog.
  • “Employers Must Obtain Employee Consent For BYOD Programs,” recommends Yaron Dori and Jeff Kosseff, Covington & Burling LLP for Law360.
  • “Chinese Trade Secret Theft Hits Universities,” reports Press Millen for Womble Carlyle’s Trade Secrets Blog.
  • “Non-Compete Agreements Aren’t for Everyone: The Necessity of Proving a ‘Legitimate Business Interest,’” advises Betsy Lensan Cook of Womble Carlyle for National Law Review.
  • “Exercise Gym Instructor Enjoined By Non-Compete Agreement,” reports David Poppick for Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog.
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:
  • “Password Sharing and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Revisited,” considers Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.

Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • Well, it’s official: “U.S. Blames China’s Military Directly for Cyberattacks,” reports The New York Times. Also see “PENTAGON: Chinese Hackers Have Stolen Data From ‘Almost Every Major U.S. Defense Contractor,'” asserts The Business Insider, “Pentagon report says U.S. computer hacking ‘appears to be attributable’ to Chinese government,” reports The Verge and “U.S. Says China’s Government, Military Used Cyberespionage,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • “A cybersecurity primer for legal departments: Understanding the basic terms and concepts needed to protect your company from cyber attacks” by David Lim for Inside Counsel.

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Less than two months after its introduction, Texas has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act effective Sept. 1, 2013, reports Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog. It appears that the version adopted is similar to that proposed by Dallas State Senator John Carona and will include a presumption in favor of granting protective orders to protect trade secrets in litigation, including limiting access to confidential information to attorneys and their experts. (For more on the proposed statute, see my post earlier this year as well as Robert Milligan’s recent post).
  • Connecticut is joining the list of states tinkering with their non-compete laws, advises Daniel Schwartz in his Connecticut Employment Law Blog.  In “Bill Targets Non-Compete Agreements But Would Also Create New Cause of Action,” Daniel reports that the bill allows “reasonable” non-competes but would permit an aggrieved employee the right to sue if the non-compete was unreasonable or the employee was not provided with at least 10 days to consider the non-compete before signing it.
  • “Chinese Couple Sentenced to 3 Years and 1 Year for Theft of GM Hybrid Technology,” advises Todd Sullivan in his Trade Secrets Blog.
  • And in another prosecution, “Ex-Frontier Chemist Dodges Prison For Disclosing Recipes,” as Law360 reports that the U.S. District Court for Utah sentenced Prabhu Prasad Mohapatra to time served — three days — and ordered him to pay $3,435 in restitution.
  • “Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Independent Claim for Inevitable Disclosure of Trade Secrets,” reports Eric Ostroff in his Trade Secrets Law Blog.  Kenneth Vanko has a post on the case as well in his Legal Developoments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • Eric Ostroff also has a fine post entitled “Five Ways to Protect Trade Secrets When an Employee Departs.”  If you have not bookmarked Eric’s blog, you should as he is churning out very good content regularly.
  • Those in Pennsylvania should be aware of a decision out of the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania reports the Employee Discrimination Reporter. In De Lage Landen v. Thomasian, the District Court refused to enforce a non-compete despite proof that the former employee had breached a non-solicitation provision by approaching a former colleague. The court reasoned that the parties were not sufficient competitors, there was no showing of future harm, money damages were available, and therefore no irreparable harm was present.
  • “Fracking and Trade Secrets: An Introduction,” advises Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developoments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “Fisher/Unitech (Basically) Loses Non-Compete Fight Against Former Sales Exec,” advises Jonathan Pollard for the non-compete blog.
  • “Doctor Non-Solicitation Agreement Not Supported By Legitimate Business Interest,” reports Zach Jackson for Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog.
  • “Employers Slow To Guard Data Amid Social Media, Tech Boom,” bemoans Erin Coe for Law360.
  • “Data Security Policies and Procedures Still Lacking,” warns Catherine Dunn for Corporate Counsel.
  • In “Unleashing job hoppers could give economy a bounce,” Reynolds Holdings posits in an article for Reuters that releasing unemployed workers from their non-competes might help the economy.
  • “China Non-Competes. The Basics Have Become Clearer,” advises Dan Harris in his China Law Blog.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • “California Federal Court Dismisses Computer Fraud and State Unfair Competition Claims Alleged Against Ex-Employees Accused Of Stealing Computer Source Code,” reports Paul Freehling for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Programmer Arrested For Cyberattack On Ex-Employer,” reports Law360.
  • “Use a Software Bug to Win Video Poker? That’s a Federal Hacking Case,” proclaims Kevin Paulson for Wired.
  • “Who’s at Fault for the CFAA Mess? Blame Congress,” sighs Brian Bialas for Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog. Sounds good to me.

05022013Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Good advice from Josh Durham: “Use Covenants Not To Compete To Protect Legitimate Business Interests, Not Just Because You’re Scared Of A Little Competition.” In his post for Poyner Spruill’s Under Lock & Key Blog, Josh recounts the holding of a recent North Carolina case, Phelps Staffing LLC v. CT Phelps, Inc., in which the court found that a non-compete involving temporary staffing employeees lacked a legitimate business interest to justify the restraint. It is an important reminder to companies to ensure that their non-competes be narrowly tailored to protect interests that actually arise from the former employee’s employment.
  • Sergey Aleynikov will stand trial a second time, this time in New York State’s Supreme Court, for the alleged theft of Goldman Sachs’ trade secrets, reports The Wall Street Journal and Law360. Judge Ronald Zweibel ruled that the state charges were not barred by the dismissal of his federal conviction under the Economic Espionage Act last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (For more on the Aleynikov saga, see my posts here and here).
  • For more on the Ohio Supreme Court’s recent holding that rental payments are trade secret, see Todd Sullivan’s take in his Trade Secrets Blog. Todd notes the incongruity in the Court’s reasoning that disclosure of the trade secrets would lead to a “poisonous” tenant environment, despite the fact that it noted later in its opinion that the landlord’s expert said tenants were incentivized not to share rental information. (My post on the case can be found here).
  • “Pushing Back Against Restrictive Covenants in Physician Agreements” advocates Mark Gisler as he questions whether non-competes violate the American Medical Association’s code of ethics.
  • “Illinois Federal Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Prohibiting Use Of Misappropriated Trade Secrets But Rejects Request For Expanded Injunction Based On Alleged “Inevitable Disclosure” reports Paul Frehling for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Florida Court Reverses Preliminary Injunction on Restrictive Covenant,” reports Peter Vilmos for Burr & Forman’s Non-Compete Trade Secrets Law Blog.  Eric Ostroff also has a post on the case in his Trade Secrets Law Blog.
  • “When a Restriction on Soliciting “Prospective” Customers Is Unreasonable (and How to Fix It),” recommends Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: One Simple Weapon to Fight Economic Espionage in a Cyberspace World,” warns Hayden J. Silver III for Womble Carlyle for The Compass.
  • “Why intellectual property theft is everyone’s problem,” remind Texas U.S. Attorneys Sarah Saldana and John M. Bales for The Dallas Morning News.
  • “Does social media change the meaning of “solicitation”? How to prevent ex-employees from using social networks to lure employees or customers” recommends Jon Hyman for Inside Counsel. 
  • “Why Abuse of Discretion Matters to Employers (Non-Compete),” advises Rob Radcliff for his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • “Trade Secret “Inevitable Disclosure” Doctrine Taking Shape in North Carolina,” advises Betsy Cook Lanzen of Womble Carlyle for The National Law Journal.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “Reflections On Recent Cybersecurity Developments,” ponder David N. Fagan, John K. Veroneau, Robert Nichols and Kristen E. Eichensehr of Covington & Burling LLP for Law360.
  • “The War On Cybercrime: How Far Can You Go?” posits Gabriel Ramsey, Mark Mermelstein and James Hsaio of Orrick for Corporate Counsel.
  • “Is the Specter of a Cyber Cold War Real?” asks James McGregor for The Atlantic.
  • “Law firm fell victim to phishing scam, precipitating $336K overseas wire transfer, bank suit alleges,” reports Debra Cassens Weis for The ABA Journal’s Law News Now.
  • “Looking at the Future of Cybersecurity,” predicts Sue Reisinger for Corporate Counsel.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • Looking for a post-mortem on the recent CFAA trial of David Nosal? Then check out “In Executive’s Trade Secret Prosecution, a Company’s Outsized Role,” by Vanessa Blum who covered the trial for The Recorder, Venkat Balasubrumani’s post in the Technology & Marketing Law Blog and Daniel Joshua Salinas’ post for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • Earlier this week, The Washington Post ran a front-page story, “As cyberthreats mount, hacker’s conviction underscores criticism of government overreach,” detailing the prosecution of hacker Andrew Auernheimer.
  • Similarly, The ABA Journal has drawn attention to efforts to reform the CFAA, in an article “Hacker’s Hell: Many want to narrow the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” by Stephanie Francis Ward.

Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Add Illinois to the list of states considering legislation over their non-compete laws, as Kenneth Vanko advises in “A Brief Commentary on Illinois’ Proposed Noncompete Agreement Act” in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog. Ken reports that, unlike the legislation in Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts which seeks to scale back or limit non-competes, the proposed legislation would tend to benefit employers.
  • “Schwab Says Ex-Advisers Diverted $47M In Accounts To Rival,” reports Law360.  Epstein Becker’s Peter Altieri has a post about the dispute as well.
  • “DuPont Trade-Secret Prosecutors Add Charges Against Liew,” reports Bloomberg.
  • “Recent Non-Compete Case Highlights Pennsylvania’s ‘Worthless Employee Doctrine’ advises Jonathan Pollard for the non-compete blog. This poorly-named doctrine holds that an employer cannot enforce a non-compete against an employee that it just terminated for poor performance.
  • The Unintellectual Property Blog has a post about a recent software trade secret dispute in Delaware against Cisco. In ExpertUniverse v. Cisco, the court applied the California Uniform Trade Secret Act and dismissed ExpertUniverse’s claims because it failed to adequately describe its trade secrets and demonstrate misappropriation.
  • “Want to avoid a prosecution under the Economic Espionage Act? You might want to consult “Economic Espionage Act: Seven Tips to Close a Fast-Growing Compliance Gap” by Lauren M. Papenhausen and Benjamin Franklin of McDermott, Will & Emery, LLP for Bloomberg Law.
  • Looking for a primer on forensic computer examinations?  Then check out “Nuts and Bolts for Terms Commonly Used in Trade Secret Computer Forensic Investigations” by Jonathan Karchmer for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “It takes a village to protect trade secrets,” advises Naomi Fine of Pro-Tech for Forbes.
  • “Protecting Your Closely Held Business,” recommends Peter Vilmos for Burr & Forman’s Trade Secrets Non-Compete Blog.
  • In “Trade Secrets for Sale,” Douglas Alexander proposes a robust and aggressive trade secret protection program for EBN.
  • In “A Little-Publicized Change in Patent Law on Secret Prior Art,” Paul F. Prestia details changes in the America Invents Act that may permit an inventor to preserve an invention as a trade secret indefinitely for Corporate Counsel.  For more on this issue of the newly revised section §102(a)(1), see my post last fall.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • Lots of articles on the Obama Administration upping its calls for China to address the reported cybersecurity attacks.  The New York Times is reporting that “Cyberattacks Prominent in Obama Call With New Chinese President.” Also check out “U.S. Demands That China End Hacking and Set Cyber Rules,” also by The Times, and “Obama Aide Demands China Stop Hacking” by The Wall Street Journal.  The Journal also had an op-ed piece this week by John Wohlsetter entitled “Chinese ‘Hackers’ Is a Misnomer. They’re Spies.”  Finally, Todd Sullivan provides his thoughts and takes the Administration to task for taking so long to single out China.
  • “How to avoid being hacked: Strong passwords and other security tips” recommends Anick Jasdenun for SiliconValley.com

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • Looking for an update of recent CFAA cases? Then check out Shaw E. Tuma’s excellent summary here.
  • “When leaving your job, make sure you do this if you really want to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act!”, another fine post by Shawn Tuma.