Category Archives: Trade Secret

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Lavigne and Kee Discuss Employee Productivity, Information Security, and Confidentiality on HR Works Podcast

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 … Continue Reading

Zooming In: How Using Zoom Improperly Can Destroy Trade Secret Protections

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 … Continue Reading

Three Appellate Court Decisions Provide Valuable Lessons for the Enforceability of Restrictive Covenants in Employment Agreements

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.… Continue Reading

The Wild (Kanye) West of Trade Secret Theft

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 … Continue Reading

UPDATE: Self-Driving Car Executive Sentenced to 1.5 years in Prison and Public Speech Tour for Trade Secret Theft

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 … Continue Reading

Federal Court Rejects Request for In-Person Deposition in Trade Secret Case

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 … Continue Reading

Food Fight Breaks Out In Trade Secret Aisle

A trade secret fight has broken out among rival food companies. Mars, Inc. contends that a former executive downloaded several thousand files containing trade secrets and confidential business information shortly before switching sides to work for JAB Holding Company, LLC and its subsidiary Pret Panera Holding Company, Inc. The former executive is not Mars’s only … Continue Reading

Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information from the Side Effects of the Coronavirus

The coronavirus has had an incredible negative impact across the globe. Besides the obvious medical issues, the virus has multiple side effects: closed schools, devastated the economy, multiple “stay at home” orders across the country, etc. In order to continue to do business and comply with the stay at home orders, many employers are allowing … Continue Reading

Federal Court Rules Damages under Trade Secret Act Can Extend beyond United States Borders

After a trial that lasted more than three months, the eight-person jury empaneled by the Chicago-based court took only two and a half hours to deliberate, siding with Motorola and awarding them everything their attorneys had asked for in damages. The verdict came out to a shocking $764.6 million, or just under $350 million in … Continue Reading

Federal Court Rules Trade Secret Damages Can Extend beyond the U.S. border

In a high-profile trade secret case, a federal court in Chicago ruled that the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) extends beyond the U.S. and covers actions and damages that occur in other countries. Background. Back in 2017, telecommunications and technology conglomerate Motorola Solutions, Inc. brought a lawsuit against rival radio manufacturer Hytera Communicatoins Corporation, … Continue Reading

Jury Finds Uber Must Face $1B Trade Secrets Suit

A California jury recently concluded that an inventor timely filed a trade secret lawsuit against Uber seeking $1 billion in damages. The inventor’s lawsuit claims that Uber and its founder stole his business concept, which the inventor alleges he shared sometime in 2006 under a promise that Uber’s founder would keep the concept confidential. Around … Continue Reading

Judge allows Chinese Company to view American Company’s Trade Secrets in Hong Kong as Part of Groundbreaking DOJ Litigation

A federal judge in the Northern District of California ruled that Chinese state-owned Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. and their Taiwanese partners United Microelectronics Corp. were legally entitled to review trade secret information they allegedly misappropriated from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. U.S. v. United Microelectronics Corp., No. 18-CR-465 (N.D. Cal.).  The ruling came as part … Continue Reading

Not So Fast And Furious – Executive Indicted for Stealing Self-Driving Car Trade Secrets

Back in March, 2017, we posted about a civil lawsuit against Anthony Levandowski, who allegedly sped off with a trove of trade secrets after resigning from Waymo LLC, Google’s self-driving technology company. Waymo not only sued Levandowski, but also his new employer, Uber, and another co-conspirator, Lior Ron. Since our initial post, things have gotten progressively … Continue Reading

Louisiana Supreme Court Allows Employer-Friendly Decision in Non-Compete Case to Stand

Drafting an enforceable (and meaningful) non-compete provision in an employment agreement can be difficult. Many states, like Louisiana, recognize that non-compete provisions in employment agreements raise a serious public policy concern. In Louisiana, this public policy is set forth in La. Rev. Stat. 23:921. It requires non-compete provisions to set forth specific parishes or municipalities in … Continue Reading

AT&T Sues Consulting Firm for Trade Secret Theft and Breach of Contract

AT&T Services, Inc. and its subsidiary, DirectTV, LLC (collectively, “AT&T”) sued Max Retrans, LLC (“Max Retrans”), a consulting company that works with local broadcasting companies to sell their content to Pay-TV service providers for re-broadcast. Background. Local broadcasting companies—like the local affiliates of ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC—are licensed by the FCC to broadcast their television … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Expands Confidentiality Protections for Private Companies

In Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, the U.S. Supreme Court held that government agencies can withhold a private company’s records from public disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) if the company has treated the information as confidential and also received promises from the government agency to maintain the information’s … Continue Reading

Do You Need Hard Proof of Data Theft To Bring Trade Secret Claims? Maybe Not

The large majority of employment based trade secret claims start with an employer uncovering evidence that its employee or former employee improperly downloaded confidential business information. But a recent case in Boston illustrates that such evidence may not be necessary to bring a trade secret or unfair competition claim. The Dispute. In Amgen USA Inc. v. … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Rules Louisiana Trade Secret Claim Does Not Preempt Claim For Conversion Of Confidential Info

The Louisiana Supreme Court has not addressed whether a claim under the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA) precludes a claim for conversion of confidential information. But the U.S. Fifth Circuit recently did in  Brad Services, LLC v. Irex Corporation, No. 17-30660 (October 17, 2018), finding that these conversion claims are not preempted. Factual Background. Brad … Continue Reading

Federal Courts in Louisiana Recognize Trend in Trade Secret Cases

Lawsuits alleging trade secret theft raise challenging discovery concerns, as they almost always arise in the context of an employee leaving to work for a direct competitor. Courts have struggled to balance a trade secret plaintiff’s right to obtain discovery with a competitor’s interest in protecting its own confidential business information. This balancing is particularly … Continue Reading

Louisiana Appellate Court Addresses Customer Lists and Irreparable Harm In Trade Secret Case

A recent Louisiana court of appeal decision provides guidance on two issues that frequently arise in trade secret cases. Southern Marsh Collection, LLC v. State Traditions, LLC, 2017 WL 4985217 (La. App. 1st Cir. 2017) addresses the recurring question of when customer lists qualify as trade secrets and—somewhat surprisingly—holds the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act … Continue Reading

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
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