Here are the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week, as well as one or two that I missed over the past couple of weeks:
Noteworthy Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Cases:
- David Almeling’s latest article, “7 Reasons Why Trade Secrets are Increasingly Important,” for the Berkley Technology Law Journal is now out and is a “must read” for all trade secret and non-compete lawyers. As regular readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of David’s and I believe he is one of the important voices today in the trade secret legal community. In his latest article, David explains in considerable detail the seven key trends that have contributed to the increase in trade secret litigation and why he expects the growth in this area of the law will likely continue.
- “Best Buy Hit With $5M Punitives For Stealing Trade Secrets,” reports Law360. U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II awarded TechForward $5 million in exemplary damages (TechForward had requested $22 million). A jury had recently awarded TechForward $22 million in compensatory damages.
- A federal jury convicted a Michigan couple last Friday of stealing trade secrets for General Motors’ hybrid program. Todd Sullivan’s Trade Secrets & Employee Defections Blog has more detail on the prosecution of and a link to an article reporting the conviction. According to Todd, the prosecution claimed that Shanshan Du, the ex-GM employee, copied GM’s private information on the motor control of hybrids and provided documents to her husband, Yu Qin. Prosecutors also accused Qin of using the data to seek business ventures and employment with GM’s competitors, including the Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co. The couple will be sentenced in February 2013.
- A programmer for the Federal Reserve System was sentenced to six months home arrest for stealing trade secrets, reports Law360. Bo Zhang, 32, was sentenced today to three years supervised release and six months home confinement by U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe for stealing proprietary software code from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s accounting and reporting program.
- “Advertising Giant Leo Burnett in Non-Compete Fight Over Kellogg Account with Eight Former Employees” reports Jonathan Pollard in the non-compete blog.
- Looking for more on the recent Trade Secrets Clarification Act? See Russell Beck’s thorough post as well as Seyfarth Shaw’s take on the proposed statute. (My post on the proposed Act can be found here).
- For those in New York, Daniel Josh Salinas has a post for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog detailing the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York’s recent decision rejecting a heightened pleading requirement for trade secrets claims. According to Josh, in Dorsett Industries v. United Groceries, the district court emphatically rejected that a trade secret plaintiff had that burden; in fact, the district court even allowed the claims to go forward despite the defendant’s claim that the plaintiff had been equivocal about whether trade secrets had even been misappropriated at this stage.
- From the “When will they learn?” file, Kenneth Vanko details the latest unsuccessful effort by a plaintiff to argue that a restrictive covenant violates the Sherman Act.
- In an article for Forbes entitled “Intellectual Property Awareness At Universities: Why Ignorance Is Not Bliss,” John Villesanor details a recent informal survey that revealed 68% of the engineering students questioned did not know enough to answer the question “what is a trade secret?” and 21% stated that they did not know enough to answer the question “what is a patent?”
- “Myriad Updates: Clinical Trial Data as Trade Secrets and a Pending Certiorari Decision” from Dan Vorhaus for the Genomics Law Report.
Cybersecurity Articles and Posts:
- The New York Times Bits Blog has a interesting article about a recent study by Mandiant of a cyberbreach of Coca Cola that took place in 2009.
- “Facebook hacks its own employees to teach lessons” reports Mashable.
- “Security Is Hard, But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Ignore It” admonishes Jon Evans for TechCrunch.
- “Here We Go Again: Latest Draft Of White House Cybersecurity ‘Executive Order’ Is Leaked” shrugs TechDirt.
- And on a related note, “Cybersecurity legislation is ‘top’ priority next Congress” advises The Hill. The article notes that House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) “plans on meeting with industry players, including tech companies and critical infrastructure operators, to get their feedback on what measures they think should be in cybersecurity legislation.”
- “The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats of 2013” predicts Tomer Teller for Forbes.
News You Can Use:
- “Top 10 Security Issues That Will Destroy Your Computer In 2013,” warns Kenneth Rapoza for Forbes.