Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week:
Noteworthy Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Cases: 

  • Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA Inc. has persuaded a trial court to set aside a $124 million jury verdict against it arising from Grail Semiconductor Inc.’s claims that Mitsubishi breached a non-disclosure agreement by disclosing confidential information for a memory chip to an affiliate, Mitsubishi-Japan and a jointly owned Japanese company, Renesas.  Bloomberg is reporting that Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Kenneth Barnum concluded that the jury’s damages analysis was flawed but that he upheld the jury’s findings of liability.  The verdict was the 13th largest jury verdict in the U.S. so far in 2012.
  • In yet another bad faith case, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has imposed attorneys fees and costs against a plaintiff and its lead counsel, finding that the action was “essentially a vendetta” against the former employees “designed . . . to litigate them to death, rather than out of a genuine concern about protecting intellectual property.”  In Loparex, LLC v. MPI Release, LLC, Judge Magnus-Stinson was influenced by the fact that Loparex had filed, but quickly dismissed, an action against one of the former employees in Illinois, after warnings from the Illinois court about its concerns about Loparex’s ability to identify its trade secrets, and then refiled that action before her.  (A PDF copy of the opinion can be found below).
  • Non-competes do not violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Secrets Act, reports Gray Plant Moody.  The article details the recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Mary Kay, Inc. v. Amy Dunlap, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86499 (N.D. Tex. June 21, 2012), which also rejected a challenge under the Sherman Act.
  • For those in Illinois, the Illinois Fourth Appellate District has recently applied the new analysis supplied under Reliable Fire Equip. v. Arrendondo to enforce a non-compete, reports DeBlasio Donnell’s Litigation Blog.  In Zabaneh Franchises, LLC v. Walker, the Fourth Appellate District reversed the trial court’s decision not to uphold the covenant not to compete, reasoning that the employee was only restricted from soliciting customers that she had serviced for her former employer. 
  • Oklahoma companies and attorneys interested in “Dissecting the Oklahoma Non-Compete Statute Phrase by Phrase” should consult Shawn J. Roberts’ post. 
  • For a good summary of the pending In re Certain Rubber Resins trade secret case before the International Trade Commission, see Brian Vogel’s article at Inside Counsel
  • Interested in finding out more about the Protecting American Trade Secrets and Innovation Act of 2012? Check out Crowell & Moring’s Mark Klapow’s article, “The Latest Attempt to Federalize Trade Secret Law,” in Law360.
  • If you are thinking of sending a cease and desist letter, you might want to consider the approach used in Jack Daniels’ splended letter, which has gone viral (it was even commented upon in The Atlantic). You will be sure to avoid the ridicule that came from the clever response to the Hopasaurus Rex cease and desist letter.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles: 

  • If you are looking for the latest on the pending cybersecurity legislation, there is plenty to sink your teeth into. Foley & Hoag’s Security, Privacy and The Internet Blog reports on the Obama administration’s decision to throw its weight behind Senator Joseph Lieberman’s Cybersecurity Act of 2012. 
  • Also check out  The New York Times two articles, “Senators Force Weaker Safeguards Against Cyberattacks” and “Again, Wrangling Over Surveillance in the Cybersecurity Bill.”
  • For Baker & Hostetler’s Data Privacy Monitor Blog’s take on the Cybersecurity Legislation, check out its posts asking “Can National Security Trump Politics This Close to the Election?”
  • Steptoe & Johnson’s Sally Abertazzie’s E-Commerce Law Week shares her thoughts on the legislation, as well as a nice summary of the First Circuit’s recent decision in  Patco Construction Company v. People’s United Bank holding that a bank’s security was commercially unreasonable in connection with a claim over cybertheft of a customer’s funds.
  • Finally, The Washington Post weighed in last week on the legislation with its editorial entitled “Stockpiling arms against cyberattacks” and appears convinced the threat is real and that our private and public bodies need to take some action.
  • “Smartphones are becoming top targets for cyber attacks” reports MoneyWeb, particularly because they are expected to become the equivalent of wallets, replacing credit cards and cash.

News You Can Use: 

  • The Wall Street Journal’s Digits Blog cautions that “Do You Use Free Wi-Fi? It May Be Legal to Sniff All Your Data.” 
  • And for the highly paranoid, Forbes’ Andy Greenberg advises “How To Bust Your Boss Or Loved One For Installing Spyware On Your Phone.”

Loparex Order 07.31.12.pdf (109.26 kb)