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:
- A Kansas City jury has awarded $31.3 million to Hallmark Cards in a trade secret dispute against Boston-area private equity firm Monitor Clipper Partners LLC, reports Todd Sullivan’s Trade Secrets & Employee Defections Blog. According to Todd, the jury awarded approximately $21.3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages to Hallmark. Hallmark had claimed that Monitor violated a NDA and misappropriated its trade secrets in connection the private equity firm’s bid for a rival of Hallmark’s.
- The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is claiming that eBay entered into an improper agreement with Intuit to not compete for the other’s employees, reports The Wall Street Journal. Kenneth Vanko also has a post on this filing; he reports the DOJ has sued eBay under the Sherman Act, claiming that the no-hire agreement is both illegal under a per se and rule of reason analysis.
- The former CBS producers accused of stealing trade secrets from CBS’s “Big Brother” reality show have filed an action seeking a declaration that CBS has waived its right to pursue arbitration against them for their alleged misappropriation. Alleging that CBS has waged the “legal equivalent of war” against them, the former producers are arguing that CBS waived its arbitration rights when it sought and failed to get a TRO attempting to restrain the producers from launching the show “Glass Houses.” For more on this dispute, see my earlier post.
- Does “friending” a customer on Facebook amount to a violation of a non-solicitation agreement? Not according to a Massachusetts Superior Court in Invidia v. DiFonzo, which recently found that merely having friends who are also customers, without more, does not constitute solicitation. Evan Brown’s Internet Cases and Eric Goldman’s Tech & Marketing Blog both have posts on this case. For more on this issue of social media and solicitation, see my post last year on the TEKSystems v. Hammernik case out of Minnesota.
- Can’t get enough about China being bashed about its theft of trade secrets? Then check out Press Millen’s post for Womble Carlyle’s Trade Secrets Blog. Press cites to a recent article from Foreign Affairs that concludes that China is the number one purveyor of corporate espionage today.
- The Trade Secrets Institute has a nice post about whether the increasing number of disputes arising out of the supposed misappropriation of “ideas” for television reality shows should include trade secrets claims.
- “How to Fight a Non-Compete Agreement” advises Pamela Chung for the upcounsel blog.
- Anticipating a dispute with a California employee over a non-compete? Then you should check out the post entitled “Enforcing Non-Compete Agreements Against California Employees — Part 1” by Shepard Davidson and Renee Inomata for The In-House Advisor.
- Two of my favorite trade secret/non-compete bloggers, Kenneth Vanko and Rob Dean, have combined for a Podcast that can be found on Kenneth’s Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
IP and Technology Posts and Articles of Note:
- Criticism of the U.S. patent system continues to swell. Wired had an opinion piece aptly named “The Patent Problem.” And in Forbes, Robert Jordan has penned an article, “The New Patent Law: End of Entrepreneurship?” that expresses concern that large companies will be favored under the new “first to file” patent system because they have the resources to muscle through more patent applications than smaller innovators.
Cybersecurity Articles and Posts:
- In a cover story for Wired, Mat Honan argues that the password is effectively useless. In “Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore,” Mat details how hackers disrupted his life last summer. On a similar topic, Mat also has criticized The New York Times in an article entitled, “The New York Times Is Wrong: Strong Passwords Can’t Save Us.” The Times article in question, “How to Devise Passwords that Drive Hackers Away,” had apparently been its most popular of the past week.
- “Security researcher found guilty of conspiracy and identity fraud in ‘hackless’ AT&T iPad hack” reports The Verge.
- “Your Phone Has Been Hacked. Here’s What You Need to Know” advises Elise Ackerman for Forbes.
- “Send Document, Get Breached? Tightening Security in Document Exchanges” reports Charlie Magilato for the attorney at work blog.
- “Cybersecurity Act of 2012 Dies Again in the Senate” reports Misty Blair for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
News You Can Use:
- Want to make good decisions at critical junctures? Then check out Joel Peterson’s recent article, “Decide or Perish: How to make the right call” for Forbes.