Here are the noteworthy trade secret, restrictive covenant and cybersecurity posts from the past month or so:

The Defend Trade Secrets Act

  • The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has found that certain deer registry information qualified as a combination trade secret under the DTSA and Oklahoma’s version of the UTSA, as explained by Michael Weil and Tierra Piens for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch blog.
  • The issue of whether the DTSA applies to misappropriation that may have taken place prior to the DTSA’s enactment has been one of the more frequent areas of litigation under the DTSA.  Jonathan Shapiro of Epstein Becker has a summary on these cases for Law360.

Continue Reading Monthly Wrap Up (July 31, 2017): Noteworthy Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts From Around the Web

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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Cases. Posts and Articles:

  • “Seagate Technology Recoups $630 Million Trade-Secrets Award” reports Business Week.  A Minnesota state appeals court has ruled that an arbitrator didn’t exceed his authority in awarding Seagate $525 million (and an additional $105 million in interest) in its trade secret dispute with Western Digital and a former Seagate employee. The arbitrator had found that some of the defendants’ evidence was fabricated regarding three of the trade secrets at issue and entered judgment against Western and the employee, Sining Mao, as a sanction.
  • “Even Preparing To Compete In Texas May Be Prohibited During A Non-Competition Covenant Period” advises Paul Freehling for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.  Rob Radcliff also has a post on this decision, “Anti-Planning Provisions – A New Non-Compete Weapon?” in his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • And speaking of Texas, “Physician Noncompetition Agreements May Be Challenged More Often After Recent Texas Appellate Decision” warns Randy Bruchmiller for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Five Year Non-Compete Enforced In Indiana” reports Peter Steinmeyer for Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog.
  • For the latest on non-compete legislation in Massachusetts, see “Massachusetts Noncompete Bill – Hearing Date” by Russell Beck in his Fair Competition Law Blog.  Seyfarth Shaw’s Erik Weibust also has a post on the legislation.
  • The Southern District of New York has recently held “Marketing Concepts Are Not Trade Secrets” advises Eric Ostroff in his Trade Secrets Protection Blog.
  • In “Don’t Chase Your Tail in Pursuit of the “Perfect Non-Compete,” Michael Greco offers some sound and practical advice in Fisher & Phillips’ Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog.
  • “The Line Between Trade Secrets and Patents: Getting Dual IP Coverage on the Same Technology” recommends Matthew Poppe and Morvarid Metanat for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog.
  • “Myriad’s Trade Secret Trump Card: The Myriad Database of Genetic Variants” reports Courtenay Brinckerhoff of Foley & Lardner for JDSupra Law News.
  • “The next controversy in genetic testing: clinical data as trade secrets?” ask Robert Cook-Deegan, John M. Conley, James P Evans and Daniel Vorhaus for The European Journal of Human Genetics.
  • “The Business End Of The ‘Snowden Lessons'” reports Anne Sutton of Dentons and Erik Laykin of Duff & Phelps Corp. for Law360.
  • “More Answers To Your Noncompete Questions” provides Donna Ballman for her Screw You Guys, I am Going Home Blog.
  • “Texas Public Information Act: Shielding Your Company from the Open Records Sword” advises Jack Skaggs of Jackson Walker for JDSupra Law News.
  • In “Trade Secrets Whistleblower SLAPPed In Effort to Dismiss Lawsuit,” Ken Vanko reports on the recent dismissal of a whistleblower claim brought against Anhueser-Busch in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.  For more on this case, see my post from the spring.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • Looking to limit others from digitally eavesdropping you?  Then check out “Digital Tools to Curb Snooping” by Somni Semgupta for The New York Times Bigs Blog.
  • “U.S. Cybersecurity Plan Not Designed To Increase Regulation, Officials Say” claims Bloomberg BNA.
  • “How America Is Fighting Back Against Chinese Hackers” advises Adam Clark Estes for Gizomodo.

Computer Fraud & Abuse Act Posts and Articles:

  • “MIT Intervenes In Release Of Aaron Swartz Case Details” reports Gerry Smith for The Huffington Post.

A recent trade secrets decision out of New Jersey against The Weather Channel illustrates some interesting trade secret issues that arise in licensing agreements — namely, to what extent can a licensee extract itself from a licensing agreement when it concludes that it can gather the subject matter of the license from other publicly available places (or come up with the information more cheaply).  

In Events Media Network, Inc. v. The Weather Channel, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97514 (July 12, 2013), U.S. District Court Judge Robert P. Kugler denied a motion to dismiss filed by The Weather Channel, finding that the plaintiff Events Media Network, Inc. (EMNI) had presented sufficient allegations of trade secret theft to move the case forward.  EMNI contends that The Weather Channel took proprietary information that was supplied under their license agreement and improperly used it after the license expired.

The case involves one of the thorniest issues that arise in trade secret litigation — whether a compilation of publicly available information can qualify as a trade secret. In its Amended Complaint (attached as a PDF below), EMNI described its business as collecting, reviewing and distributing information for various local and national events and attractions.  While it conceded that none of the individual bits of data gathered together was confidential, EMNI argued that once that information was gathered together from the various sources using a custom built database, it qualified as a trade secret.

Applying Georgia’s Uniform Trade Secret Act, Judge Kugler agreed, at least at this early stage of the litigation, that EMNI had identified sufficient evidence that the information it supplied to The Weather Channel, organized in the fashion that it was, constituted a trade secret.  In this respect, his decision rests on solid ground and is consistent with the pleading standards that benefit a trade secrets plaintiff at this early juncture of the case. Todd Sullivan notes that The Weather Channel does not appear to contest that it used the information and predicts the case will be mediated or settled soon.

I Agreed to What?!!!  The case raises another interesting trade secret issue that has been in the news lately — whether the terms of a written contract can trump trade secret law.  According to the Amended Complaint, EMNI and The Weather Channel contractually agreed that the information supplied by EMNI under the license agreement was proprietary.  As a result, EMNI argued that provision should estop The Weather Channel from claiming otherwise.

A recent case out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Convolve and MIT v. Compaq and Seagate, held that the contract between the parties may be controlling on the question of whether information qualifies as a trade secret and that the parties can decide between themselves what needs to be done to ensure trade secret status.  In that case, the Federal Circuit found that the plaintiff’s failure to designate information as “confidential” — as was required under a non-disclosure agreement — doomed the plaintiff’s trade secret claim (for more on the case see Dennis Crouch’s post in Patently O Blog as well as Jason Stiehl’s post for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog).

Here, EMNI used the language of the contract to its advantage and argued that The Weather Channel had conceded the proprietary nature of the information under the license.  The lesson?  In written agreements negotiated between sophisticated commercial parties, courts will frequently defer to the language of the agreement.

Quick Takeaway for Licensees: Do your due diligence and if you have skepticism over the value of what you are going to be licensing, it may be best to say “no thanks” to the deal.

Quick Takeaway for Licensors: The language of your agreement may prove critical so make sure that your licensee concedes that the information that you are supplying is protected and proprietary. More often than not, the court will apply the language agreed to by the parties.

EMNI Amended Complaint.pdf (1.56 mb)

01042013The corrected version of today’s Thursday Wrap-Up post is posted below. A technical glitch caused the post to inadvertently launch last night so we apologize to our subscribers. We appreciate your loyalty and work hard to deliver valuable content. Thank you for your patience. 

Now, to the noteworthy trade secret, non-compete and cybersecurity stories from the past week:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Cases, Posts and Articles:

  • For you sports fans, a budding dispute is emerging in the NBA over the enforceability of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers’ non-compete. Rivers, one of the more highly regarded NBA coaches, has been approached by the Los Angeles Clippers but a non-compete in his contract may prevent his move. For their take on the situation, check out Rob Dean’s post, “Calling Foul on Doc Rivers’ Non-Compete Contract,” for Frith & Ellerman’s Virginia Non-Compete Blog as well as Kenneth Vanko’s post in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • Wondering how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Myriad decision may affect the use of trade secrets? Then check out “In Setting Genes Free, Supreme Court Decision Will Put Greater Emphasis on Trade Secret Protection in Biotech,” by Michael Baniak for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • For the latest on the high profile prosecution of Walter Liew and the Pangang Group, see “Trade Secrets Charges Survive Dismissal Bid In DuPont Case,” reports Law360.
  • “Creators of 5-hour ENERGY file complaint against DOJ for requesting ‘trade secrets,'” advises Joyce DeWitt for the Statesman Journal Blog.
  • In a surprisingly sympathetic article about Sergey Aleynikov’s legal travails entitled “Questions Linger in Case of Copied Code,” Reed Albergotti expresses concern about the most recent prosecution in The Wall Street Journal.
  • “Google, Judges Duck Latest Version of Trade Secrets Case,” reports Law360.
  • Looking for a “Broker Update” on trade secret and non-compete disputes in the financial industry? Then check out Rob Radcliff’s post in his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • “Enforceability of a Noncompete Agreement will Often Depend Upon Context,” advises Jason Shinn for the Michigan Employment Law Advisor Blog.
  • “No, No, No – Your Independent Contractor Cannot Sign a Noncompete. Never. Ever,” exclaims Tiffany Hildreth for Strasburger’s Noncompete Blog.
  • “No Sanctions For Text Message Deletion,” advises Christopher Brif for the IT-Lex Blog.
  • Trade Secret Suit Against Defense Co. Sent To Arbitration,” reports Law360.
  • “The New Prior User Rights Defense: How Often Will It Be Asserted?” ask Robert A. Pollock and Matthew R. Van Eman for Finnegan’s America Invents Act Blog.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “Why The NSA Leaks Will Lead To More Economic Espionage Against American Companies,” warns John Villasenor for Forbes Tech.
  • “Why Your CEO Is a Security Risk,” cautions Rohyt Belani  for the Harvard Business Review Network Blog.
  • Looking for a concise summary of all the pending federal cybersecurity and trade secrets legislation? Then check out “Pols Gone Wild: Congress Discovers Trade Secret Theft and Cybersecurity are Problems; We Sort Through the Explosion of Legislation,” by Sophie Yu and Gabriel M. Ramsey for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch Blog.
  • “5 Data Breach Risks You Can Prevent,” proclaim Clark Schweers and Jeffrey Hall for Law Technology News.
  • “The Public/Private Cooperation We Need on Cyber Security,” advises Harry D. Raduege, Jr. for the Harvard Business Review Network Blog.
  • “After Profits, Defense Contractor Faces the Pitfalls of Cybersecurity,” reports The New York Times.

Computer Fraud & Abuse Act Articles, Cases and Posts:

  • “Minnesota Federal Court Dismisses Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Claim Based on Departing Employee’s Downloading of Customer List,” reports Erik von Zeipel for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • For more on the recent decision denying a motion to dismiss the CFAA claim in the AMD trade secret case, see Erik Ostroff’s post “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Applied Narrowly In AMD Case,” for his Protecting Trade Secrets Blog.

01042013Here 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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Bloomberg has received withering criticism for allowing the presumably confidential information of its customers to be viewed (and most likely used) by its reporters. Last week, Bloomberg said it had now restricted its journalists from accessing information about terminal subscribers, including when they last logged on, when they subscribed and how often they accessed features like news or the chat function. CNBC, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal all have comprehensive articles on the scandal. Bloomberg’s troubles underscore the challenges of maintaining ethical screens and walls between business units who have potentially divergent interests over confidential information. 
  • “Credit Suisse says ex VP stole trade secrets in move to Goldman,” reports Reuters
  • “5th Circ. Affirms $44M Wellogix Jury Award In Trade Secret Spat,” reports Law360.
  • “Trade Secret ‘Watch List’: Bill Would Establish Monitoring List of Countries Engaging in Cybertheft, and Make U.S. Intelligence Czar the Point Person,” reports Robert Isaackson for Orrick’s Trade Secrets Watch.
  • “New Massachusetts Superior Court Noncompete Decision Discusses the ‘Material Change’ Defense and Shows the Benefit to Employers of Having a ‘Material Change’ Clause in Noncompete Agreements,” advises Brian Bialas for Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog.
  • Josh Durham reports on the latest non-compete involving a doctor, “NC Court of Appeals Orders Injunction In OB-GYN Covenant Not To Compete Case,” for Poyner Spruill’s Under Lock & Key Blog.
  • And while we are talking about physician non-competes, the recent $39 million “Tuomey verdict could make hospitals more cautious in doctor contracts,” advises Adam Kerlin for Reuters.
  • “Florida Court Discusses Trade Secrets in Discovery,” reports Solomon Genet for the Trade Secrets Law Blog.
  • “Show Me the Money – Injunctions are Not Cheap,” warns Rob Radcliff in his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • “You Can’t Reverse Blue-Pencil a Non-Compete,” advises Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “Trade Secrets Law Still Murky in Georgia Courts,” reports Alyson Palmer for Corporate Counsel.
  • Fracking and trade secrets remain a combustible combination, as Law 360 reports that, “Enviros Must Show Need To Get Trade Secret Docs: Pa. Court.”
  • For an excellent summary of the key points of the new Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, see, “Texas Trade Secrets Law Gets Business-Friendly Upgrade,” by Jesse Davis for Law360.
  • A recent study finds that over 90% of innovative products are never patented, reports Eric Ostroff in a recent post for his Trade Secrets Law Blog. According to Eric, the study looked at the “R&D 100 Awards” to reach its conclusions. The results of this study of course reinforce the importance of making sure your trade secret protections are adequate.
  • Attention eBay shoppers: “Coca Cola’s secret formula for sale for 15 million dollars,” reports DailyBhaskar.com

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • The theft of nearly $45 billion was from New York banks by cyberthieves was widely reported in the past week. For an analysis of the legal fallout, see, “Lessons From the New York ATM Heist,” by Jason Weinsten for Steptoe’s Cyberblog.
  • “Legal Showdown on Cybersecurity: Hotelier Wyndham Challenges FTC’s Authority to Police Corporate Data Practices,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • “Cyberattacks Against U.S. Corporations Are on the Rise,” reports The New York Times.
  • “‘Bring Your Own Device’ is Evolving from a Trend to a Requirement,” advises Arik Hesseldahl for All Things Digital
  • “Hacking back: Digital revenge is sweet but risky,” advises Melissa Riofrio for PCWorld.  

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • “No Damages? Illinois Federal Court Tosses Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Claim Alleging Hacking of Law Firm Network,” reports Paul Freehling for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Should Lying About Your Age Online Be a Federal Crime?” asks Peter Torren in an article for Corporate Counsel.

05022013Here 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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Good advice from Josh Durham: “Use Covenants Not To Compete To Protect Legitimate Business Interests, Not Just Because You’re Scared Of A Little Competition.” In his post for Poyner Spruill’s Under Lock & Key Blog, Josh recounts the holding of a recent North Carolina case, Phelps Staffing LLC v. CT Phelps, Inc., in which the court found that a non-compete involving temporary staffing employeees lacked a legitimate business interest to justify the restraint. It is an important reminder to companies to ensure that their non-competes be narrowly tailored to protect interests that actually arise from the former employee’s employment.
  • Sergey Aleynikov will stand trial a second time, this time in New York State’s Supreme Court, for the alleged theft of Goldman Sachs’ trade secrets, reports The Wall Street Journal and Law360. Judge Ronald Zweibel ruled that the state charges were not barred by the dismissal of his federal conviction under the Economic Espionage Act last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (For more on the Aleynikov saga, see my posts here and here).
  • For more on the Ohio Supreme Court’s recent holding that rental payments are trade secret, see Todd Sullivan’s take in his Trade Secrets Blog. Todd notes the incongruity in the Court’s reasoning that disclosure of the trade secrets would lead to a “poisonous” tenant environment, despite the fact that it noted later in its opinion that the landlord’s expert said tenants were incentivized not to share rental information. (My post on the case can be found here).
  • “Pushing Back Against Restrictive Covenants in Physician Agreements” advocates Mark Gisler as he questions whether non-competes violate the American Medical Association’s code of ethics.
  • “Illinois Federal Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Prohibiting Use Of Misappropriated Trade Secrets But Rejects Request For Expanded Injunction Based On Alleged “Inevitable Disclosure” reports Paul Frehling for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Florida Court Reverses Preliminary Injunction on Restrictive Covenant,” reports Peter Vilmos for Burr & Forman’s Non-Compete Trade Secrets Law Blog.  Eric Ostroff also has a post on the case in his Trade Secrets Law Blog.
  • “When a Restriction on Soliciting “Prospective” Customers Is Unreasonable (and How to Fix It),” recommends Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: One Simple Weapon to Fight Economic Espionage in a Cyberspace World,” warns Hayden J. Silver III for Womble Carlyle for The Compass.
  • “Why intellectual property theft is everyone’s problem,” remind Texas U.S. Attorneys Sarah Saldana and John M. Bales for The Dallas Morning News.
  • “Does social media change the meaning of “solicitation”? How to prevent ex-employees from using social networks to lure employees or customers” recommends Jon Hyman for Inside Counsel. 
  • “Why Abuse of Discretion Matters to Employers (Non-Compete),” advises Rob Radcliff for his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • “Trade Secret “Inevitable Disclosure” Doctrine Taking Shape in North Carolina,” advises Betsy Cook Lanzen of Womble Carlyle for The National Law Journal.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “Reflections On Recent Cybersecurity Developments,” ponder David N. Fagan, John K. Veroneau, Robert Nichols and Kristen E. Eichensehr of Covington & Burling LLP for Law360.
  • “The War On Cybercrime: How Far Can You Go?” posits Gabriel Ramsey, Mark Mermelstein and James Hsaio of Orrick for Corporate Counsel.
  • “Is the Specter of a Cyber Cold War Real?” asks James McGregor for The Atlantic.
  • “Law firm fell victim to phishing scam, precipitating $336K overseas wire transfer, bank suit alleges,” reports Debra Cassens Weis for The ABA Journal’s Law News Now.
  • “Looking at the Future of Cybersecurity,” predicts Sue Reisinger for Corporate Counsel.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • Looking for a post-mortem on the recent CFAA trial of David Nosal? Then check out “In Executive’s Trade Secret Prosecution, a Company’s Outsized Role,” by Vanessa Blum who covered the trial for The Recorder, Venkat Balasubrumani’s post in the Technology & Marketing Law Blog and Daniel Joshua Salinas’ post for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • Earlier this week, The Washington Post ran a front-page story, “As cyberthreats mount, hacker’s conviction underscores criticism of government overreach,” detailing the prosecution of hacker Andrew Auernheimer.
  • Similarly, The ABA Journal has drawn attention to efforts to reform the CFAA, in an article “Hacker’s Hell: Many want to narrow the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” by Stephanie Francis Ward.

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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • As many of you know, the Obama Administration has invited public comments on possible federal trade secret legislation by April 22, 2013. Peter Toren has posted his letter and comments to the Administration on his blog and I would commend everyone to review them and to get their own comments to the Administration if they favor a federal trade secret statute. I am hoping to get my letter and comments finished and posted as well by the end of the week.
  • Similarly, in “Obama Administration’s Request for Public Comment on Trade Secrets Law Underscores Importance for Companies to Protect Their Proprietary Assets Now,” Robert Milligan has a fine summary on a recent American Bar Association resolution supporting a federal trade secrets civil cause of action in Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • The dismissal of Macy’s breach-of-confidentiality-agreement claim against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia generated some headlines last week. Bloomberg has a nice summary of the decision, which was issued from the bench.
  • “Dispute Involving 3-D Printers And Covenant Not To Compete Proves That Details Matter,” advises Josh Durham for Poyner Spruills’ Under Lock & Key Blog.
  • “Devicor, Major Player in Medical Device Industry, Loses Non-Compete Case Against Former Employee,” reports Jonathan Pollard for the non-compete blog.
  • “Employees still use online file sharing, even if companies prohibit its use,” warns Lucas Mearian for ComputerWorld.
  • “Protecting Trade Secrets: How many shades of gray do you need to count?” asks Neil Wilkoff for IP Finance.
  • “6th Circuit Addresses Reasonable Protection of Trade Secrets,” advises Eric Ostroff in his Trade Secrets Law Blog.
  • “Nebraska Court Addresses Meaning of ‘Solicitation’ in Non-Compete Agreement,” reports Ken Wentz for Jackson Lewis’ Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Reporter.
  • “Why Courts Like Non-Solicits over Non-Competes,” advises Rob Radcliff in his Smooth Transitions Blog.
  • “No-Hire Provisions In Settlement and Commercial Agreements — Are they Legal?” asks Robert Goldstein for Epstein Becker’s Trade Secrets & Non-Compete Blog.
  • “Does the Alabama Trade Secrets Act Limit Remedies for Theft of Information?” asks Gill Egan for Burr & Forman’s Non-Compete Trade Secrets Blog.
  • “Settlements (Part 2 of 3): 5 Reasons Non-Compete Cases Should (and Do) Settle,” advises Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • In “Civil Liberties Fears Dooms House Cybersecurity Bill,” The New York Times Bits Blog reports that President Obama is threatening to veto CISPA because of privacy concerns.
  • “Amendments to CISPA a Threat to Cybersecurity?” asks Stewart Baker in Covington’s Cyberblog.
  • “Spending Bill’s China Cybersecurity Provision Is Unclear,” advises H. Deen Kaplan, Thomas L. McGovern and Harriet P. Pearson, Hogan Lovells LLP for Law360.
  • “King & Spalding Blocks Email Access Amid Security Concerns,” reports Beth Winegarner for Law360.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • “Shameful: Tech Companies Fighting Against Necessary CFAA Reform And CISPA Fixes,” complains TechCrunch.
  • “Hacking the Law: Fights Over Cyber-Security and a Silicon Valley Divide,” reports Rachel Swan for SFWeekly.
  • “Amending the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” proposes Peter Toren for Bloomberg.
  • For the latest on developments in the U.S. v. Nosal trial, see “Ex-KFI Worker Recounts Trade Secret Theft In Hacking Trial’ by Beth Winegarner for Law360 and “Prosecutors Get Key Testimony From Ex-Lover in Hacking Trial,” by Vanessa Blum for The Recorder.

Wow, it was a busy week. 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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Federal prosecutors were dealt a severe blow in the Economic Espionage Act case brought against affiliates of the Pangang Group (a company with ties to the Chinese government), as U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White quashed summons against them in the U.S. v. Liew case.  As reported by Bloomberg and Law360, this is the second time that summons have been quashed and it increasingly appears that the government will not be able to serve, let alone prosecute, these companies for their alleged role in the theft of DuPont’s titanium dioxide trade secrets.
  • “New Jersey Legislators Propose Banning Non-Compete Agreements With Employees Who Can Claim Unemployment,” reports Jessica Mendelson for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog. Also see Law360’s article, “NJ Bill Targets Noncompete Restrictions On Unemployed.”
  • Honey, I stole the trade secrets!  “Can an Employee Use a Spouse to Circumvent Restrictive Covenants? Georgia Court of Appeals Says ‘No,'” advises Amy Dehnel for Berman Fink Van Horn’s Georgia Non-Compete and Trade Secret News.
  • “Merrill Lynch Says Ex-Advisers Stole Client Info,” reports Law360, when they joined competitor Wells Fargo.
  • “Wisconsin Researcher Accused of Economic Spying for China,” reports Bloomberg.
  • “Plaintiff’s Foreign Operations Result in ‘Lessened’ Deference to Choice of Home Forum in Trade Secret Misappropriation Case,” advises John C. Law, Ph.D. of McDermott Will & Emery for the National Law Review.
  • “Frisby-Eaton Whistleblower Settles with Frisby, Tolling Agreement Persists with Eaton,” advises Alison Grant for The Plain Dealer and Todd Sullivan for his Trade Secrets Blog.
  • “Get Smart About Noncompetes,” advises Alan Bush for The Texas Lawyer.
  • Don’t forget the importance of “Trade Secrets and Due Diligence,” a reminder by Eric Ostroff for his Trade Secrets Law Blog.
  • For a recent non-compete case out of Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal, see “A Court’s Order Must Comply With The Restrictive Covenant It Seeks To Enforce,” by Kain & Associates’ ComplexIP.com.
  • “Enforcing a Non-Compete Agreement in Florida: What Evidence is Relevant?” asks Jason Cornell for Fox Rothschild’s South Florida Trial Practice Blog.
  • “Non-competes: HR’s version of the Prenup,” proclaims Steve Boese for Fistful of Talent.
  • “5 Privacy and Data Security Measures That Can Protect Your Company Against Trade Secret Theft,” recommends Lindsey Tonsager for Covington’s Inside Privacy Blog.
  • Kenneth Vanko has the first of three posts on why certain non-compete and trade secrets cases may not settle for his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • And for the litigators, “Don’t Forget about E-Discovery When Moving to The Cloud,” advises Jay Yurkiw for Porter Wright’s Technology Law Source Blog.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • As many of you may have noticed last week, The Wall Street Journal launched a Risk & Compliance Reporter that will cover, among other things, developments in cybersecurity.  It is worth bookmarking. To that end, here is one of the introductory posts, “Three Tactics for Cyber defense” by Mark G. Graff.
  • “How To Mitigate The IP Risks Of Data Breaches,” advises Carol Anne Been and Andy Blair of Dentons for Law360.
  • In an op-ed piece for The New York Times “Closing the Door on Hackers,” Marc Maifret, CTO for BeyondTrust wonders whether software companies are incentivized to allow hacking.
  • “Insider Theft: the Real Cyber Threat?” asks The Wall Street Journal’s Corruption Currents Blog.  The post quotes Mike Dubose of Kroll as estimating the average time between an internal breach and its discovery is 32 months.
  • “As more hackers target lawyers, here’s how to protect client data,” recommends Rachel Zahorsky for the ABA’s Techshow.
  • “U.S. Undersecretary to Discuss Hacking With Chinese Officials,” reports Bloomberg.
  • “Silicon Valley Fights Restrictions on Chinese Tech,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • “A Different Approach To Foiling Hackers? Let Them In, Then Lie To Them,” recommends Andy Greenberg for Forbes. (And don’t forget to at least buy them a drink).

Computer Fraud & Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • The trial in the prosecution of David Nosal is underway in San Francisco and expected to go about 12 days. Here are some of the articles covering it: “In High-Tech Hacking Trial, a Battle of Low-Tech Openings,” notes Max Taves, who is covering the Nosal trial, for The Recorder. Also check out Vanessa Blum’s article, “Amid Calls for Reform, a Rare Trial of Hacking Law,” also for The Recorder.
  • “Here are eight cyber crooks who got less prison time than Andrew Auernheimer,” advises Dan Kaplan for SC Magazine.
  • “NY Times Reporter Jenna Wortham Accidentally Reveals How She Violated Both The CFAA & The DMCA,” reports Techdirt.
  • “7th Circ. Won’t Resurrect Employer Email Hack Suit,” reports Law360, as the plaintiff was unable to demonstrate that the alleged invasion of privacy cost him more than $5,000.

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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • “Always be the good guy.” That is the title of an excellent post by Brian Bialas for Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog that should serve as an important reminder to lawyers that in injunctive proceedings, which are so dependent on the exercise of equity, that your client (employer or employee) have the moral high ground.
  • “House Dems Push For China Trade Secret Theft Designation” reports Law360.  Congressmen Sander Levin ( D-Mich.) and Charles Rangel, (D-N.Y.) asked acting U.S.Trade Representative (USTR) Demetrios Marantis  to consider designating China as a “priority foreign country” under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974.  According to Law360, the law requires the USTR to identify countries that have inadequate protection of intellectual property rights, and those with the most egregious IP protection records can be targeted as priority. Once the USTR designates a priority foreign country, the trade agency is required under Section 301 of the act to complete an investigation, the results of which may lead to President Obama imposing import duties or taking other action. The Congressmen said that, “as evidence mounts” that the Chinese government is engaging in cybertheft, China may deserve the special designation.
  • Liu Sixing was sentenced to five years by a New Jersey federal judge for stealing defense trade secrets from L-3 Communications, reports the BBC. The trade secrets included information on U.S. missile, rocket and drone technology.
  • New blogger Erik Ostroff advises “Federal Circuit Addresses Uniform Trade Secrets Act Discovery Rule” in his Trade Secrets Law Blog.
  • “Worker stole trade secrets to ‘lure away’ clients, tobacco company says” reports Ken Bradley for the Knowledge Effect Blog for Thomson-Reuters.
  • “Enviros Can’t Make Wyo. Reveal Halliburton Fracking Formula” advises Law360.
  • For those in New York, Neal Dlausnera and David Fisher ask “Are Restrictive Covenants Enforceable Against Employees Terminated Without Cause? ‘Hyde’ indicates the answer may be yes.” In their fine article for The New York Journal, Neal and David consider the recent case of Hyde v. KLS, which may have eroded New York’s longstanding ban on non-competes against terminated employees. (For more on the Hyde case, see my post last year).
  • “Protecting Company Information When Employees Bail: California Alternatives to Employee Non-Compete Agreements” advise Robert Milligan and Jessica Mendelson for Seyfarth Shaw’s Trading Secrets Blog.
  • “Plaintiffs’ Attorneys, Rest Easy: Cease and Desist Letters Likely Aren’t Defamatory,” reports Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “Litigating Theft of Trade Secrets before the International Trade Commission,” details Peter Toren.
  • “7 Steps to Enhance Post-Employment Restrictive Covenants,” reports Jeffrey Boxer for Corporate Counsel.
  • At last, something they can agree on: the latest on “Apple Inc. (AAPL), Samsung And Their Trade Secrets,” and their appeal to the Federal Circuit reports Michelle Jones for ValueWalk.
  • “The non-compete that didn’t happen,” advises Rob Radcliff for his Smooth Transitions Blog.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “New U.S. law says government agencies will need OK before buying Chinese IT equipment” reports Danielle Walker for SC Magazine.
  • “How to Avoid Getting Duped By A Hacker,” advises The Wall Street Journal’s Digits Technology Blog. 
  • “The Question of ‘International Law of Cyberwar,” posits Stewart Baker for Steptoe’s Cyberblog.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • “The Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute is a Failed Experiment,” laments Eric Goldman in a guest post for Forbes.
  • “Another Court Construes the CFAA Narrowly and More of My Thoughts on the Statute,” ponders Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog. Ravindra Shaw provides her take on the same case out of New York, in her post for Jackson Lewis’ Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Report Blog.

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:

Trade Secret and Non-Compete Posts and Articles:

  • Does a law firm have to reveal its client’s non-compete to the client’s business partners? In “Texas Firm Beats Fraud Suit For Keeping Mum On Noncompete,” Law360 reports that the answer is “no.” The Texas Court of Appeals held that there was no duty to disclose the client’s non-compete by the law firm and its attorney when they negotiated legal documents with those third parties.
  • “Non-Compete Fight in the World of Surgical Robotics: MAKO Surgical Sues Competitor, Former Employee,” advises Jonathan Pollard for the non-compete blog.
  • “FBI arrests NASA contractor employee trying to flee to China,” reports The Washington Examiner.
  • “Stryker Exec Who Jumped Ship Must Hand Over Trade Secrets,” reports Law360.
  • “Protecting Trade Secrets with a Mobile Workforce and Telecommuters,” reports Cliff Atlas for Jackson & Lewis’ Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Report.
  • Even The Economist is writing about the importance of trade secrets, asking, “Can you keep a secret? To patent an idea, you must publish it. Many firms prefer secrecy.”
  • “Mediating Non-Competes in the Medical Device Industry,” explains Michael Greco for Fisher & Phillips’ Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog.
  • Will the ability to preserve an invention as a trade secret lead patentholders to withhold the best mode of that invention in their patent applications? In “Patent law’s ‘best mode’ requirement a conundrum for attorneys,” Erin Geiger Smith warns that could be the case for Bloomberg.
  • “5 ways in-house lawyers can support innovation at their companies: Inside counsel have a duty to help drive innovation to success, within the limits of existing law and policy,” advises Eric Esperne in Inside Counsel.
  • Want to enforce a non-compete against a Chinese employee? You need to read, “China Employee Non-Competes. Do Not Try This At Home,” by Dan Harris for his China Law Blog.

Cybersecurity Posts and Articles:

  • “After a Data Breach, Do You Need an Investigator or a Lawyer?” asks Catherine Dunn for Corporate Counsel.
  • “Take Chinese Hacking to the WTO,” urges James P. Farwell for The National Interest.
  • “Infographic: How Criminals Guess Your PIN,” warns Gina Smith for Tech Page One.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Posts and Cases:

  • “U.S. v. Nosal: Back In the District Court, the Defendant Isn’t as Fortunate,” reports Kenneth Vanko in his Legal Developments in Non-Competition Agreements Blog.
  • “The Split in the Circuit Courts Over the Proper Interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Actually Goes Three Ways,” updates Brian Bialas for Foley & Hoag’s Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog.
  • Is journalist Matthew Keys the latest Aaron Swartz? asks Garance Burke in his article for The Huffington Post entitled, “Matthew Keys’ LA Times Hack: Security Breach Or Harmless Prank?”
  • And in another high profile CFAA prosecution, Orin Kerr writes, “United States v. Auernheimer, and Why I Am Representing Auernheimer Pro Bono on Appeal Before the Third Circuit,” for The Volokh Conspiracy.