Here are the noteworthy posts, articles and cases of the past week:
Trade Secret and Non-Compete Cases and Posts:
- A Utah jury has awarded more than $130 million to the developer USA Power LLC, after finding that utility PacifiCorp stole trade secrets from USA Power in order to build a power plant based on USA Power’s design. PacifiCorp must pay damages of nearly $18.2 million, along with $112.5 million for its unjust profits from the use of the trade secrets. And in an interesting twist, USA Power secured a verdict of $3.2 million against its former lawyers, Utah law firm Holme Roberts & Owen and attorney Jody Williams, for breaching their fiduciary duties to USA Power.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently vacated a $1.4 million judgment against the U.S. Navy for misappropriation of trade secrets on jurisdictional grounds, concluding that the case should have proceeded before the Federal Court of Claims. The plaintiffs, United States Marine Inc. and VT Halter Marine Inc., charged the Navy had disclosed designs for a high-speed military vessel to a competitor.
- In a rare trade secret case before the International Trade Commission (ITC), SI Group, Inc. has filed a complaint with the ITC requesting an investigation of Sino Legend (Zhangjiagang) Chemical Co., Ltd., Red Avenue Chemical Co. Ltd., and affiliates of those companies. SI Group, a manufacturer of chemical intermediates, is asking the ITC to grant, among other things, an order excluding from entry into the United States all rubber resins, including tackifiers, manufactured using SI Group trade secrets. It appears that the Federal Circuit’s holding in TianRui Group may now be taking hold and inspiring more trade cases before the ITC.
- Caveat partners of Wisconsin law firms: Don’t even think about trying to impose non-competes on your associates, warns the State Bar of Wisconsin. For more on whether lawyers can be bound by non-competes, see my recent post.
- Does a promotion and increased compensation result in a material change that voids a non-compete? According to one Superior Court of Massachusetts, it does not, advises Michael Rosen in Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Non-Compete Blog. In Sentient Jet LLC v. Mackenzie, the court rejected the employee’s argument of material change because the parties did not act as it there was a change in the agreement’s fundamental terms.
- Digital forensics expert Jim Vaughn has the second of his series on “The Use of Digital Forensics in Trade Secrets Matter” in Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
- “Is the Michigan Basketball Playbook a Trade Secret?” asks Rob Dean of Frith & Ellerman’s Virginia Non-Compete Blog? I know some people in Columbus that would pay a pretty penny for Michigan’s football playbook.
Computer Fraud and Abuse Cast Posts and Articles:
- “Alleged voyeur boss cannot pursue Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claim,” advises Evan Brown in his Internet Cases Blog.
Cybersecurity Articles and Posts:
- The Wall Street Journal has thrown its support behind the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) in a recent editorial, “Who is afraid of #CISPA?”
- David Fagan and Stephen Satterfield report the “10 Steps for Responding to a Corporate Data Security Breach” in Corporate Counsel.
- Catherine Dunn of Corporate Counsel has another interesting cybersecurity article, this one is entitled “Corporate Boards Still In the Dark About Cybersecurity.”
- “Gmail’s Security Hole Could Lead to Mass Harvesting of Accounts” writes MIT’s technology review.
News You Can Use:
- “Use social media? Memorize these vital 12 words” writes Suzanne Lucas of CBS Money Watch.