Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog

Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog

News & Updates On Developments in the Law of Restrictive Covenants, Unfair Competition & Trade Secrets

Category Archives: Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

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No Insurance Coverage In Trade Secrets Lawsuit

Insurance coverage is not something which comes to mind when thinking about trade secret misappropriation. In fact, since this blog was started in 2009, I cannot recall a single post about an insurance coverage issue.

That being said, one of the first things prudent defense counsel will do when a client is sued for alleged trade secret misappropriation is to instruct their client to notify their insurance carrier and inquire as to whether there is coverage for some or all of the claims. Sometimes there is; sometimes there isn’t.  However, the prudent course of action is always to play it … Continue Reading

Trade Secret Preemption: A Possible Defense To A Trade Secrets Claim?

Two recent decisions by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clarify the intersection between federal copyright law and state trade secret shapiro law. In GlobeRanger Corp. v. Software AG United States of America, Inc., 836 F.3d 477 (5th Cir. Sep. 7, 2016), the Fifth Circuit rejected an appeal in which the defendant argued that a plaintiff’s trade secret misappropriation claim was preempted by federal copyright law. Just four months later, in Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts, Inc., No. 15-20084, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 509 (5th Cir. Jan. 11, 2017), the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court’s dismissal of … Continue Reading

Key Trade Secret and Non-Compete Developments in 2016 – Employment Law This Week

The year-end episode of Employment Law This Week  looks back at the biggest employment, workforce, and management issues in 2016.

Our colleague Jonathan Shapiro discusses the impact of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA)—which opened federal courts to trade secrets claims, regardless of the dollar value—and the White House’s call to action encouraging states to ban non-compete agreements in some circumstances.

Watch the segment below and read Epstein Becker Green’s recent Take 5 newsletter, “Top Five Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Issues of 2016.”

Continue Reading

“List of Holiday-Related Trade Secret/Non-Compete Cases”

LightsWhether you are a young child missing teeth, or a grown-up taking account of her life, or Santa Claus himself checking up on everyone else’s life, many of us make lists at holiday time.  They can be lists of gifts we want, or those we need to get, or people we wish to see or write to, or things we need or want to do before the end of the year.  Sometimes they are just lists of things that happened this year or that we want to happen next year.  Certainly there are lots of “Top Ten” holiday lists.  This … Continue Reading

Going All the Way: SDNY Jury Awards $14.5 Million in Trade Secrets Lawsuit

It is rare that a trade secret / restrictive covenant lawsuit makes it all the way to trial, much less a jury verdict. The passage of time, accumulating legal expenses, bad facts, and/or the risk of losing at trial all can conspire to sap litigants of the desire to take their cases to the finish line.  Settlements and withdrawals of claims abound.  Sometimes, however, the parties dig in and roll the dice in court, as recently occurred in a case in the Southern District of New York.

On November 29, 2016, after more than 10 days of trial, a jury … Continue Reading

Webinar, Nov. 30: Year in Review – Trade Secrets and Non-Compete Developments

Many businesses progressively fear that their trade secrets and valued business relationships are at risk of attack by competitors – and even by their own employees. Do you know what it takes to protect those critical assets in the ever-changing world of trade secret and non-compete law?

Join Epstein Becker Green attorneys Anthony J. Laura,  Robert D. Goldstein, and Peter A. Steinmeyer on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. EST for a complimentary, 75-minute webinar hosted by Practical Law.  This webinar offers insights into recent developments and expected trends in the evolving legal landscape of trade … Continue Reading

Employers Under the Microscope: Is Change on the Horizon? – Attend Our Annual Briefing (NYC, Oct. 18)

Employers Under the Microscope: Is Change on the Horizon?

When: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019

Epstein Becker Green’s Annual Workforce Management Briefing will focus on the latest developments in labor and employment law, including:

  • Latest Developments from the NLRB
  • Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
  • ADA Website Compliance
  • Trade Secrets and Non-Competes
  • Managing and Administering Leave Policies
  • New Overtime Rules
  • Workplace Violence and Active-Shooter Situations
  • Recordings in the Workplace
  • Instilling Corporate Ethics

This year, we welcome Marc Freedman and Jim Plunkett from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Marc and Jim will … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Divided On Bad Faith Under Illinois Trade Secrets Act

In a question of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court recently addressed what constitutes “bad faith” for purposes of awarding attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party under §5 of the Illinois Trade Secret Act (ITSA). That section provides, in pertinent part, that if “a claim of [trade secret] misappropriation is made in bad faith” or “a motion to terminate an injunction is made or resisted in bad faith,” “the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.” The Illinois Appellate Court delivered a split decision on the legal standards for assessing whether a “bad faith” fee award is … Continue Reading

Criminal Enforcement Protects Trade Secrets Taken By Departed Employees

James P. Flynn

James P. Flynn

In the recent case of United States v. Nosal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed the applicability of both the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Economic Espionage Act as safeguards against theft of trade secrets by departed former employees.  Importantly, Nosal applied such laws to convict a former employee in a case involving domestic businesses and personnel without any alleged overseas connections.  Because of civil enforcement provisions in the CFAA itself and the recently enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act, Nosal represents a possible guide to employers seeking to … Continue Reading

Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Signed Into Law – Employment Law This Week

David Clark, contributor to this blog and Senior Counsel at Epstein Becker Green, is featured on Employment Law This Week, discussing the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA).

Under the DTSA, employers can now sue in federal court for trade secret misappropriation. Though there is some overlap with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act—adopted in some version by 48 states—the DTSA marks a notable change in how these cases are litigated, creating a federal civil cause of action. The new law contains broad whistleblower protections and new requirements for employers to give notice of these protections.

View the episode … Continue Reading

What Issues Might the SEC and/or NLRB Have with Employee Confidentiality Agreements?

It is a common practice for employers to obtain a written agreement from employees to refrain from disclosing company trade secrets and other confidential and proprietary information. Such agreements are structured to be effective after an employee departs, as well as while he or she is actively employed. Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements can be an important tool in an employer’s efforts to protect trade secret, business-sensitive, and other confidential information, but if they are not thoughtfully and carefully drafted, they could engender unwelcome scrutiny, or even enforcement action, from executive agencies, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) … Continue Reading

Defend Trade Secrets Act Signed Into Law

On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), which became effective immediately. The DTSA provides the first private federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation, and it allows parties to sue in federal court for trade secret misappropriation—regardless of the dollar value of the trade secrets at issue.

Although the DTSA’s remedies largely overlap with those in the 48 states that have adopted some version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the DTSA will nevertheless significantly alter how trade secret misappropriation cases are litigated. Additionally, the DTSA has broad whistleblower protections, and … Continue Reading

In Today’s Environment, What Is “Adequate Consideration” for a Restrictive Covenant Signed by an Existing Employee?

Employers seeking to require an existing employee to sign a restrictive covenant should consider current litigation trends surrounding what constitutes “adequate consideration.” Under the traditional rule followed by a majority of states, continued employment, standing alone, is adequate consideration for a restrictive covenant signed by an at-will employee. Several courts, however, have recently reexamined this issue, so employers must be aware of differences among the states as to whether some consideration beyond mere continued at-will employment is required.

Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc.

For example, the Illinois Appellate Court held in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc.,… Continue Reading

Former Workers Violated Ex-Employer’s Trade Secret Rights – Employment Law This Week

Peter Steinmeyer, co-editor of this blog, is featured in the top story on Employment Law This Week.

As the story explains, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld a ruling that a group of workers at a fastener company used confidential drawings from the company to design, manufacture, and sell competing parts for their new business venture. On appeal, the former workers argued that they were “filling a gap” for customers, not competing with the original company. But the Sixth Circuit found that this argument ignored undisputed evidence in the case.

Mr. Steinmeyer discusses steps that … Continue Reading

Should You Be Wary of the Overzealous Use of Trade Secret Claims?

High-stakes trade secret cases are typically aggressively prosecuted. But plaintiffs (and their attorneys) who prosecute these claims face substantial risks if the evidence does not support the contention that a trade secret has been misappropriated. Even a plaintiff who may have initiated a misappropriation action in good faith risks attorneys’ fees and malicious prosecution liability by continuing to prosecute the matter after it learns that the case is not substantiated.

Section 4 of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act authorizes a court to award costs and attorneys’ fees if the court determines that a claim for misappropriation is made in bad … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Affirms $3.7 Million Award And Permanent Injunction In Trade Secret/Breach Of Duty Of Loyalty Case

In Nedschroef Detroit Corp. et al. v. Bemas Enterprises et al., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently affirmed an award of nearly $3.7  million in damages against two individuals found to have engaged in misconduct related to the operation of a business which competed with their employer.

Nedschroef Detroit Corporation (“Nedschroef”) services and provides replacement parts for fastener machines made by an affiliate in Europe.  Without Nedschroef’s knowledge, two of its employees formed a business – under their wives’ names – to do exactly what Nedschroef did.

After Nedschroef learned about this, it fired the … Continue Reading

House Passes Federal Trade Secrets Bill

After years of stops and starts in Congressional efforts to pass a law creating a federal claim for misappropriation of trade secrets that can be pursued by private citizens and companies (as opposed to federal prosecutors), the last few weeks have produced an astonishing acceleration of those efforts.  This month, the Defend Trade Secrets Act has been approved by both houses of Congress in resounding fashion.  It is on the brink of being enacted into law.

On April 27, 2016, the House of Representatives voted 410-2 to pass the Defend Trade Secrets Act.  That vote came quickly on the heels … Continue Reading

Gillette Denied Injunction of Former In-House Counsel – Employment Law This Week

A featured story on Employment Law This Week is a Massachusetts court’s ruling that former counsel is not barred from giving advice to a competitor.

An in-house lawyer for Gillette left the company 10 years ago. Four years later, he became General Counsel for Shavelogic, a Gillette competitor. Gillette recently tried to obtain a broad injunction against the lawyer, who they claimed would inevitably disclose trade secrets in his position. The Massachusetts Superior Court’s Business Litigation Session ruled that there was insufficient evidence that trade secrets would be revealed, and any knowledge the counsel had of patents was likely outdated … Continue Reading

Proposed Legislation to Place Limits on the Enforcement of Non-Competes in Massachusetts

Barry A. Guryan

Barry A. Guryan

The Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Robert DeLeo, announced last week that he will introduce a compromise bill this session to place limits on the enforcement of non-competes in Massachusetts.

The Speaker’s stated motive is to find a balance between the goal of protecting businesses in Massachusetts and fostering a business environment that encourages the incubation for talent. The proposed bill would place a 12-month limit on non-compete agreements, require prior notice to workers, and ban non-competes for low wage workers.

We have been following previous attempts over the years to limit or make non-competes … Continue Reading

Staffing Industry Decision in Connecticut

Zachary C. Jackson

Zachary C. Jackson

At the end of January, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut issued a decision in the matter of Roth Staffing Companies, L.P. v. Thomas Brown, OEM ProStaffing, Inc., OEM of CT, Inc., and David Fernandez (Case No. 3:13cv216).  Much of that opinion is devoted to analyzing the parties’ arguments about whether piercing the corporate veil was appropriate under the circumstances.  However, the opinion also addressed the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on its breach of contract claim against former employee Thomas Brown.  The Court previously issued a preliminary injunction holding that Brown’s restrictive … Continue Reading

Federal Trade Secrets Bill Clears Important Hurdle

David J. ClarkLast week, the Senate version of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (S. 1890) was passed with bipartisan support by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  As we have previously discussed on this blog, the bill is aimed at addressing alleged inadequacies in U.S. law through the creation of a federal private right of action for trade secret misappropriation.  The legislation would also provide injunctions to preserve evidence and prevent disclosure, and damages to account for economic harm to plaintiffs whose trade secrets are stolen.

Having cleared the Judiciary Committee — a step that eluded similar bills in recent years — the … Continue Reading

Whatever Happened To That Federal Trade Secrets Law?

About four months ago, to some fanfare, a handful of legislators in Congress introduced a bill called the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015.  The bill seeks to create a private right of action allowing companies to assert civil trade secret misappropriation claims under federal law (which would supplement the existing patchwork of state law remedies).  What has happened to the bill since then?  Is there still a chance that it could be signed into law?

Upon introduction, the respective versions of the bill, H.R. 3326 and S. 1890, were referred to the Judiciary Committees of the House and … Continue Reading

Open Secret—Trans Pacific Partnership Terms Revealed But Trade Secret Provisions Still Murky

This morning the Obama administration publicly released the previously-undisclosed text of the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, revealing, among other things, the provisions related to trade secrets that had previously been discussed here.  As noted in that earlier piece, the administration had said that the TPP would “provide strong enforcement systems, including, for example, civil procedures, provisional measures, border measures, and criminal procedures and penalties for commercial-scale trademark counterfeiting and copyright or related rights piracy. In particular, TPP Parties will provide the legal means to prevent the misappropriation of trade secrets, and establish criminal procedures and penalties for … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Will Review Malicious Prosecution Claim Against Latham & Watkins

Latham & Watkins isn’t off the hook yet.

On April 17, 2012 and September 3, 2014, we blogged about a malicious prosecution claim brought against Latham & Watkins in the Los Angeles Superior Court.  The suit alleged the Plaintiffs, William Parrish and Timothy Fitzgibbons, were former officers and shareholders of Indigo Systems Corporation, which was purchased by FLIR Systems, Inc. in 2004.  From 2004 to 2006 the Plaintiffs worked for FLIR, leaving in 2006 to start their own business.  FLIR retained Latham & Watkins and sued Plaintiffs for, among other things, misappropriation of trade secrets.  The trial court denied the … Continue Reading

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