Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:
Noteworthy Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Cases:
- As a repeat of the razor-close 2000 presidential election looms, should voting machine manufacturers be trusted with their trade secrets? In “Trade Secrets of Voting Machines? Elon University Law School’s David Levine Objects,” Todd Sullivan has an interesting post about whether public policy should trump the commercial trade secrets of those manufacturers. According to Todd, Professor Levine essentially argues that voting machine manufacturers should forfeit any claim to their trade secrets so that the public can ensure that the machines function properly and votes are truly counted.
- Non-competes in the healthcare field continue to be a source of friction, as Seyfarth Shaw’s Paul Freehling writes about a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Northern Marianna Islands refusing to enforce a non-compete against two paramedics and their new employer, Priority Care, on public interest grounds. In August Healthcare v. Manglona, the court found the “public will be harmed if enjoining [the two employees] from working for Priority Care reduces Priority Care’s ability to serve its customers to the point of removing St. Michael’s only competitor from competition.”
- “China Court to Weigh Corporate-Spy Case” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to The Journal, American companies are closely watching this trade secrets case, brought by an American manufacturer AMSC against its Chinese customer Sinovel Wind Group, to see how China’s highest court treats an appeal by Sinovel challenging a lower court’s decision not to dismiss the case. AMSC’s dispute has generated headlines, as both Senator John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden have drawn attention to its plight.
- “When Do CEOs Have Covenants Not to Compete in Their Employment Contracts?” A recent article in The Vanderbilt Law and Economics Journal collected a random sample of nearly 1000 CEO employment contracts for 500 companies randomly selected from the S&P 1500 for the time period 1996 to 2010. Based on that sample, the study found, among other things, that non-competes were more likely in long-term contracts and by companies who had insisted on them for past CEOs.
- In “The Difficulty of Proving Trade Secret Violations” by Chip Collins for Burr & Forman’s Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog, Chip details a recent Georgia decision rejecting an employer’s effort to show trade secret misappropriation by circumstantial evidence. In Contract Furniture Refinishing & Maintenance Corp. v. Remanufacturing & Design Group, LLC, 730 S.E. 2d. 708 (Ga. App. 2012), the court granted a former employee’s motion for summary judgment where the employer could not directly refute the employee’s sworn affidavit denying misappropriation.
- If you are a departing employee in Virginia, The Virginia Noncompete Law Blog’s Rob Dean has “4 Tips on How to Leave Your Job in Virginia.”
- Curious about the “Effect of the Internet on Geographic Restrictions in Non-Compete Agreements”? Then check out this post by Ice Miller’s David Carr.
- How important are exit interviews in protecting trade secrets? Very important, says Jackie Spivey for Poyner Spruill’s Under Lock & Key Blog.
- Jonathan Pollard’s the non-compete blog provides the employee lawyer’s perspective on Amazon.com’s recent non-compete action against its former executive Daniel Powers. (My take can be found here).
- “Industry Voices: Biosimilars and Trade Secrets”by D’vorah Graeser summarizes the industry perspective for Fierce BioTech.
- In “Permanent Injunctions and The Erie Problem,” Kenneth Vanko takes Judge Payne to task for not applying the doctrine of eBay v. MercExchange in his recent decision granting a permanent injunction in the DuPont v. Kolon case. Kenneth persuasively argues that no statute should dispense with the requirement of irreparable injury but notes an injunction was warranted under the facts (for what it is worth, I think Judge Payne did apply an irreparable injury analysis although his opinion professed not to do so, for more see my post on the decision).
Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:
- “Industry groups issue web, mobile messaging best practices ” notes Danielle Walker for SC Magazine.
- In an article entitled “Killing the Computer to Save It,” The New York Times details Peter G. Neumann’s efforts to redesign the computer to make it more secure.
- “Cybersecurity Act Loses Steam” advises infosecurity.
Thought-Provoking Posts and Articles regarding IP or Technology:
- Although October was ostensibly National Cybersecurity Month, perhaps it should have been dubbed National “Our Patent System Has Run Amok” Month with the number of articles criticizing the U.S. patent system. Timothy B. Lee’s article, “How a rogue appeals court wrecked the patent system” for ars technica caused a stir, inspring a spirited rebuttal by IP Watchdog’s Gene Quinn entitled “Lies, Damn Lies and Media Hatred of Patents (and the CAFC).” Likewise, The New York Times article “The Patent, Used As A Sword” provoked Quinn to write “What The New York Times Doesn’t Understand About The Patent System.” Gene has yet to respond to “Numbers don’t lie: Patent trolls are a plague” by Simon Phipps for Infoworld.
- In light of the above criticisms, one might want to ask, as Patently O’s Dennis Crouch does, “Should we Move Toward More Fee Shifting in Patent Cases?”
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