Here are the noteworthy posts, articles and cases of the past week:
Trade Secret and Non-Compete Cases and Posts:
- Could PepsiCo’s most valuable trade secrets be at risk? USA Today and The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog are both reporting that the heirs of one of the men who developed the soft drink’s successful formula have sued PepsiCo in the Southern District of New York for a declaration that they can publish documents related to a 1931 reformulation of the Pepsi soda by their father, Richard Ritchie.
- The Delaware Supreme Court has granted Martin Marietta’s request for an expedited appeal and ordered oral argument on May 25, with final case briefs due the day before. As readers of this blog know, Martin Marietta was enjoined from its hostile bid for Vulcan Materials because it was found to have improperly used confidential information in violation of its confidentiality agreements with Vulcan.
- The battle in the DuPont v. Kolon case rages on, as Kolon was unable to persuade U.S. District Court Judge Robert Payne to lift an order barring Kolon from making large asset transfers without giving DuPont an opportunity to challenge each transaction. Judge Payne also granted DuPont’s motion to compel certain asset-related discovery in its quest to collect on its $920 million judgment. (Copies of the opinions are attached as PDFs below).
- North Carolina continues to be a less than hospitable forum for trade secrets claims, as Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog and Littler’s Unfair Competition & Trade Secrets Counsel Blog both report on a recent case requiring greater specificity when pleading damages.
- The Missouri Supreme Court recently upheld a verdict for tortious interference against a former manager who improperly encouraged employees to abandon her former employer and also improperly diverted a customer to her new company. Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Noncompetes Blog notes these decisions are rare but that they can be compelling cases if an employer can prove the former employee was violating his or her duty of loyalty.
- The Supreme Court of Wyoming has also been busy, as it recently held that continued employment is sufficient consideration for an invention assignment agreement, reports Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
- A scientist accused of stealing secret formulas from a Utah chemistry company has pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful acess to a protected computer. Prabhu Mohapatra entered the plea on Friday in the U.S. District Court of Utah in exchange for prosecutors dropping 25 other trade secret theft charges against him.
- A former programmer for the Chicago hedge fund Citadel LLC has been indicted on federal charges of stealing its trade secrets, according to The Chicago Tribune. Yihao “Ben” Pu is charged with multiple counts of theft of confidential computer code used to develop trading strategies, according to the federal indictment filed last Friday.
- The FBI has launched an ad campaign stressing the importance of protecting trade secrets (see the picture above). The campaign consists of billboards in nine cities throughout the U.S.
- Want to know more about Georgia’s non-compete statute? Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog has a good summary on its provisions as it approaches its one-year anniversary.
- “Cyber-Threat Cooperation Emerging Between U.S. Industry and Government” reports Catherine Dunn of Corporate Counsel.
Social Media and Trade Secrets:
- A CFO of a publicly-traded fashion retailer lost his job over Twitter posts that disclosed confidential information. Francesa’s Holdings fired Gene Morphis because he “improperly communicated company information through social media,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
News You Can Use:
- “Is the Obsession with Devices a Sickness?” asks The New York Times Bits Blog.
- “How Mobile is Rapidly Evolving the World,” explains Mark Fidelman of Forbes.
- “After Yahoo: Why do Powerful People Lie?” wonders Katherine Reynolds Lewis on CNN/Money.