P.J. Kee, a partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group and a member of the trade secrets and fair competition team, authored the article “Do’s and Don’ts for Non-Competition Agreements Under Louisiana Law” featured in New Orleans CityBusiness. P.J. provides an outline of La. Rev. Stat. § 23:921, and the courts interpreting it, to better ensure these agreements are enforceable.
Earlier this month, Apple filed suit in federal court in San Jose against its former employee, Simon Lancaster, for trade secret theft. The lawsuit alleges that Lancaster worked for Apple until November 1, 2019, as an Advanced Materials Lead and Product Design Architect, which is described as a “senior role” with the company. In this role, Apple claims Lancaster was tasked with “evaluating materials and prototyping innovations to enable future generations of products.”
Although the lawsuit does not go into specifics regarding the alleged trade secret information at issue, Apple generally argues that Lancaster divulged certain secret information to an unnamed journalist and media correspondent, who allegedly provided Lancaster with certain benefits in exchange for the information. Aside from this alleged disclosure, Apple also claimed that Lancaster may be continuing to use its information on behalf of his new employer, an unnamed Apple vendor.
On January 11, 2021, the mayor of the District of Columbia signed an Act prohibiting non-competition provisions in employment agreements entered into after the date of passage. While under the peculiar rules of the District of Columbia, Congress has a 30-day window to disapprove the Act, it appears likely that this Act will pass. The effect of passage is significant, in that this widely-used tool to protect ongoing businesses will be taken away.
We hope you and your employees had a festive holiday season and happy New Year! It is always helpful to review your company policies and procedures on an annual basis, and policies and procedures on protection of trade secrets and confidential information are no different. Below are some tips to remember and questions to consider as you conduct your review this year.
Trade Secret Insider co-founders Joe Lavigne and P.J. Kee were guests on the recent HR Works Podcast episode “HR Works 128: Employee Monitoring and Protecting Trade Secrets.” During the episode, Joe, P.J., and show host Jim Davis discuss issues employers have while monitoring remote employee productivity as well as how employers can protect their trade secrets and confidential information when employees work remotely.
In April, our editor, Joe Lavigne, explained how employers can ensure trade secret protections while allowing employees to work from home during the pandemic. The article advised employers to restrict the transmission of trade secrets through social media platforms like Zoom. A recent decision out of Delaware confirmed that the failure to use Zoom privacy and security settings may result in the loss of trade secret protections.
Recently, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Fifth Circuit and Sixth Circuits reached decisions that analyze the enforceability of restrictive covenants in employment agreements. These decisions ultimately offer employers some valuable lessons when drafting employment agreements that contain restrictive covenants. An analysis of the decisions can be found here.
Musical artist and fashion icon Kanye West is being sued by a video and ecommerce company called MyChannel Inc. (MYC) that claims he breached their mutual nondisclosure agreement and took “their proprietary and confidential technology and information to fuel the e-commerce engine” of his Yeezy brand. MYC filed its lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The minority-owned business alleges that West made “lavish promises to MYC of millions of dollars in economic reward,” as well as the formation of a lucrative partnership providing millions more[.]” In return, MYC asserted that it agreed to provide Kanye West—and did in fact provide Kanye West—with “tens of thousands of hours of investment in Yeezy in reliance on those promises and the MYC-Kanye partnership.”
Since 2017, we have been covering the legal saga of Anthony Levandowski – the executive/engineer who allegedly stole Google’s trade secrets related to self-driving car technology and used it for the benefit of his new company, which he ultimately sold to Uber. The saga included civil litigation, arbitration, bankruptcy, and criminal charges, but it seems like the story is coming to an end.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing throughout the United States, lawyers have had to come up with creative solutions to complete discovery, particularly when it comes to taking depositions. Over the past few months and for the foreseeable future, most depositions are taking place, at least in part, using videoconferencing technology. As these depositions have become more widespread, some attorneys have asked courts to require in-person depositions.