Category Archives: Trade Secret

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Google vs. Uber: Tech Giants Square Off Over Driverless IP

Waymo LLC — formerly Google’s self-driving car program and currently a stand-alone company owned by Google’s parent company — is now in fierce competition with Uber to develop and capitalize on driverless technology. This battle intensified on February 23, 2017, when Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies, Inc., Ottomotto LLC, and Otto Trucking LLC. Trade Secret Claims. … Continue Reading

Trade Secret Dispute Brewing In Minnesota

The popularity of craft beers has skyrocketed.  A report cited in Fortune claims that microbreweries’ market share increased from 5.7 percent in 2011 to 12 percent in 2015. This growth has led to competition as microbreweries capitalize on the growing appetite for their product. Unsurprisingly, competition has led to allegations of unlawful conduct. Summit Brewing Company, one of the … Continue Reading

Obama Signs Federal Trade Secret Act

Today, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) into law. The DTSA amends the existing Economic Espionage Act that was previously limited to criminal cases on behalf of the Department of Justice. The DTSA now allows companies to pursue trade secret claims in federal court under federal law. A copy of DTSA can be found … Continue Reading

House Passes Federal Trade Secrets Bill

We recently reported that the U.S. Senate passed the Defend Trade Secret Act (“DTSA”), which would create a federal private cause of action for trade secret theft. This week was the U.S. House of Representatives turn. The House overwhelmingly voted to approve the DTSA by a margin of 410-2. The bill is now headed to President Obama, whose administration has indicated strong … Continue Reading

Federal Trade Secrets Bill Passes Senate

On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) — a bill that would allow companies to pursue trade secret theft through civil litigation in federal court. This long-awaited measure is a major step towards elevating trade secrets to the level of federal protection enjoyed by the other intellectual property, such as patents, … Continue Reading

The Donald Offers A Lesson To Trade Secret Litigators

This may come as a shock. But Donald Trump has unwittingly offered trade secret litigators a teachable moment. It arose in his recent squabble with fellow presidential hopeful Senator Lindsey Graham. After Trump mocked Senator John McCain for being a POW, Graham told CNN that Trump was “becoming a jackass” and later called Trump “the world’s biggest jackass” … Continue Reading

A Trade Secret Reminder — Take “Reasonable Steps”

The Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade (CREATe.org) just released a new White Paper, “Reasonable Steps” To Protect Trade Secrets: Leading Practices in an Evolving Legal Landscape. It’s a must read for companies grappling with how best to protect and manage their trade secrets. We have discussed a previous CREATe report that discussed the devastating economic effect that … Continue Reading

Hulk Hogan, Sex Tapes, And The FBI: Lesson Learned

When the celebrity gossip blog Gawker decided to post highlights from a sex tape starring Hulk Hogan, it never thought that decision would lead to suing the FBI. But that’s what happened—and just recently, Gawker prevailed. A federal judge in Florida ordered that the FBI and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys (EOUSA) must respond to Gawker’s FOIA request—even though the agencies argued … Continue Reading

Tennessee Federal Court Refuses To Apply Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine

Williams-Sonoma is embroiled in a contentious trade secret theft case with its former executive and direct competitor. On June 18, 2015, a federal district court in Tennessee granted a preliminary injunction motion to enjoin Williams-Sonoma’s former vice president and direct competitor from using confidential business information, soliciting Williams-Sonoma employees, and destroying electronic evidence. But the federal court refused to give Williams-Sonoma … Continue Reading

The CFAA Debuts In The Big Leagues

Accessing someone’s computer without authorization is a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This past week, several news sources have reported that the FBI and Justice Department are investigating executives of the St. Louis Cardinals for allegedly violating the CFAA by hacking into the Houston Astros’ internal computer network.  It’s suspected that the Cardinals’ front … Continue Reading

On the Hill: Congress “Attacks” Cyber-Security

Cyber-security and data breaches are hot-button issues that recently received some well-deserved attention from the federal government. Last year we posted about the FBI’s efforts to combat economic espionage and trade secret theft. At that time, the Assistant Director of the FBI—who was testifying before a Senate subcommittee—offered salient advice on how American companies could … Continue Reading

Huawei’s Two Bites At The Apple To Dismiss T-Mobile’s Trade Secret Claims

In a previous post, we examined T-Mobile’s complaint against Chinese smartphone marker Huawei and its US subsidiary, in which T-Mobile accused Huawei employees of stealing trade secrets relating to a mobile phone testing robot named “Tappy”. T-Mobile filed its complaint in September 2014, and the following month Huawei’s US subsidiary responded with a motion to … Continue Reading

Forum Selection Clause Causes Roadblock In Trade Secret Case

The recent decision in Wellogix, Inc. v. SAP America, Inc., No. 14-0741 (S.D. Tex. Nov. 10, 2014), demonstrates that federal courts can rely on contractual forum selection clauses to dismiss or transfer trade secret theft cases. It’s a reminder to weigh how these clauses could impact litigation strategies and to consider the specific language negotiated … Continue Reading

Chinese Company Steals T-Mobile’s “Tappy” Robot Tech, Complaint Alleges

Key takeaway: Where appropriate, confidentiality agreements should include promises not to reverse engineer the disclosing party’s technology. Meet “Tappy”, the mobile phone testing robot. Designed by T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington, labs in 2006, its mechanical “finger” mimics user inputs for mobile phones. Tappy helps T-Mobile model how users interact with mobile phones, replicating days or weeks … Continue Reading

Protecting Trade Secrets Furnished To The Government

Picture this situation:  your company is submitting a bid on a public contract, whether a technology acquisition, software development project, construction project, insurance quote, or financial services contract, to name but a few.  Or picture responding to state and federal regulatory authorities that require disclosing company information concerning approval and licensing of your gaming establishment … Continue Reading

Can You Go Too Far in Protecting Trade Secrets?

This post was originally published as an article in Volume 23 of the Louisiana Employment Law Letter. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans recently held that an employer’s policy for protecting its confidential and proprietary information was unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, the Fifth Circuit held that a … Continue Reading

Louisiana Legislature Passes Employee “Password Protection Law”

Perhaps the most significant of the employment law bills passed by the Louisiana Legislature this year is the “Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act” signed into by Governor Jindal on May 23, 2014.  Louisiana is now the 17th state to enact a “password protection law” aimed at protecting an employee’s personal online content included in … Continue Reading

Tips For Protecting Against Unfair Competition From Within

This is Part One in a three-part series on preventing unfair competition and trade secret theft by former employees.   It’s an all too familiar story. A company spends substantial time and money training employees to run and manage a specific business division. The employees receive access to the company’s confidential information—customer contacts, pricing information, … Continue Reading

European Union Close To Adopting Trade Secret Directive

The U.S. Senate is not alone when considering whether to federalize trade secret law, as the European Parliament and Council will soon discuss proposed legislation aimed at normalizing trade secret law for EU member states. The European Commission proposed a draft directive to both the Parliament and the Council in November 2013, and now the European Council has … Continue Reading

Bring Your Own Device… But Beware

Over the last decade, smart phones, laptops, and tablets have become essential components for a successful business model. Many business leaders correlate increased mobile connectivity with increased productivity. In theory, remote access to company data allows employees to efficiently work anytime, anywhere. “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies have emerged as one of the most popular options … Continue Reading

Thinking Beyond The NDA

Non-Disclosure Agreements are now staples for start-ups seeking funding from third-party investors. But entrepreneurs shouldn’t rely solely on NDAs to protect their nascent trade secrets. You must think beyond the agreement—especially in tech industries where competitive advantages go stale quickly. Two recent blog posts highlight helpful strategies for tech entrepreneurs to begin this process, though in … Continue Reading
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