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Practical Perspectives on Intellectual Property Legal Developments

Category Archives: Trade Secret

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Propping Open Cracks in Secret Depths of Fracking Chemicals: How the Wyoming Supreme Court Is Demanding More of Companies Seeking Trade Secret Protection

Posted in Trade Secret
In Powder River Basin Resource Council v. Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2014 WY 37 (2014), the Wyoming Supreme Court recently held that state district courts receiving appeals of denied record requests must independently determine whether the information must be disclosed or not, rather than merely reviewing the determination of the Commission as an administrative decision. Further, when determining whether the disclosed chemicals qualify as trade secrets protected under the Wyoming Public Records Act (WPRA), Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-4-203, the Wyoming high court held that district courts must apply the more narrow definition of what constitutes a trade secret under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as developed through federal case law when determining if the chemical formulations used in fracking qualify as trade secrets protected under the Wyoming Public Records Act (WPRA), Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-4-… Continue Reading

Trade Secrets Theft By Former Employee Results in a Criminal Conviction Under the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act but Still Leaves Uncertainty Over the Scope of the Act

Posted in Trade Secret
In United States v. Nosal, a federal jury in California convicted a former employee of Korn/Ferry for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA"). The evidence showed that the defendant directed his co-conspirators within the firm to use a borrowed password to gain access to trade secrets to be used in establishing their own business. The use of the borrowed password was critical to the successful prosecution under the CFAA because earlier in the case the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that narrowly interpreted the statute to prohibit only "unauthorized procurement or alteration of information, not its misuse or misappropriation." The significant aspect of the Ninth Circuit's interpretation of the CFAA in Nosal is the Court's conclusion that a violation of the statute does not occur merely because an employee initially uses his authorized access to obtain his employer's proprietary information even if he does so with the intent to misappropriate it. Presumably, had Nosal's co-conspirators who accessed the computerized information in question been able to do so using their own passwords, there would have been no "unauthorized procurement" in violation of the … Continue Reading

Trade Secrets Litigation: DuPont Wins Property from U.S. Subsidiary as Part of its $920M Damages Award Against the Parent

Posted in Trade Secret
Kolon USA, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of South Korea-based Kolon Industries Inc. ("Kolon"), recently was ordered by New Jersey District Court Judge Esther Salas to turn over its property to DuPont as part of DuPont's efforts to enforce the $920 million damages award that DuPont won against Kolon during a 2011 trade secrets litigation in the Eastern District of Virginia… Continue Reading

White House Takes Measures to Combat Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

Posted in Trade Secret
The Obama Administration recently released a report outlining a new strategy to combat the theft of U.S. trade secrets, by ramping up business, diplomatic, law enforcement and legislative efforts to protect this vital category of intellectual property. The "Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets" included inputs from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Treasury, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the United States Trade Representative… Continue Reading

Trade Secrets — What You Don’t Safeguard Might Hurt You!

Posted in Trade Secret
Is your company's hard earned, valuable confidential data at risk? Are you taking all the steps you should to safeguard this information? In a recent global report by Symantec, 50% of employees who lost or left their jobs in the past 12 months indicated they kept confidential company data. Of these, 40% indicated they planned to use the proprietary information in their new jobs. Exacerbating the situation is the perception on the part of employees that it is acceptable to take confidential corporate information, and that their companies do not care… Continue Reading

Federal Government Taking More Steps to Protect Trade Secrets

Posted in Trade Secret
The federal government continues to take aim at those who violate trade secrets rights. On December 28, 2012, the Theft of Trade Secrets Clarification Act of 2012 (S. 3642) became law, expanding the definition of trade secrets under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA). In addition, as previously reported in a Gibbons IP Law Alert blog, the President is expected to sign legislation recently passed by Congress that triples the damages for a violation of trade secrets protection laws and provides technical changes to patent applications and protections. Also worthy of note is an 82-page report from the U.S. Department of Justice issued last month detailing federal enforcement efforts concerning trade secrets theft… Continue Reading

New Jersey Superior Court Finds the Recently-Enacted New Jersey Trade Secrets Act Does Not Preempt Common Law Claims

Posted in Trade Secret
In an opinion dated December 7, 2012, a New Jersey Superior Court judge in Bergen County considered an issue of first impression relating to the recently-enacted New Jersey Trade Secrets Act ("NJTSA"). In SCS Healthcare Marketing LLC v. Allergan USA Inc. et al., defendant Allergan sought to dismiss numerous common law claims brought by plaintiff SCS, arguing that SCS's statutory claim for misappropriation of trade secrets under the NJTSA preempted its common law claims. SCS filed suit alleging that Allergan misappropriated marketing contractors' trade secrets relating to a proprietary technology portal. Specifically, SCS alleges that Allergan revealed its proprietary and confidential information to a rival health care marketing company, thereby violating state laws relating to unfair competition, disclosure and trade secrets… Continue Reading

U.S. v. Aleynikov Redux: Senate Closes Loophole in EEA

Posted in Trade Secret
This past spring, we reported the Second Circuit's reversal in U.S. v. Aleynikov, where the Court considered violations of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 ("EEA"), 18 U.S.C. § 1832, and the National Stolen Property Act ("NSPA"), 18 U.S.C. § 2314. In short, the Second Circuit ruled that the EEA pertains to trade secrets "placed in" commerce, and that Aleynikov's alleged misappropriation of the source code of Goldman Sachs & Co.'s trading system, which was for internal use, therefore was not violative of the EEA or the … Continue Reading

Trade Secrets Update

Posted in Trade Secret
Just as trade secrets cases continue to proliferate in the news, the U.S. Senate introduced legislation last week aimed at streamlining the ability of American companies to combat trade secret theft. Under the proposed legislation S.3389, "Protecting American Trade Secrets and Innovation Act of 2012"("PATSIA"), a single federal statute would be created under which companies could sue in Federal Court, as an alternative to the existing structure of state or common law statutes. To be eligible, plaintiffs are required under a heightened pleading standard to: "(A) describe with specificity the reasonable measures taken to protect the secrecy of the alleged trade secrets in dispute; and (B) include a sworn representation by the party asserting the claim that the dispute involves either substantial need for nationwide service of process or misappropriation of trade secrets from the United States to another country." Plaintiffs also are subject to a three-year statute of limitations… Continue Reading

U.S. v. Aleynikov: Second Circuit Reverses SDNY Due to Statutory Interpretation Errors

Posted in Trade Secret
Following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Sergey Aleynikov was convicted of stealing and transferring proprietary computer source code used in his former employer's high-frequency trading system, in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 ("EEA"), 18 U.S.C. § 1832, and the National Stolen Property Act ("NSPA"), 18 U.S.C. § 2314. On appeal, Aleynikov argued that his conduct did not constitute an offense under either statute because 1) the source code was not a "stolen" "good" within the meaning of the NSPA and 2) the source code was not "related to or included in a product that is produced for or placed in interstate or foreign commerce" within the meaning of the EEA. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with Aleynikov and reversed the District Court's ruling… Continue Reading

New Jersey Trade Secrets Act Becomes Law

Posted in Trade Secret
Yesterday, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act, A-921/S-2456 providing state law protection against trade secret misappropriation. Prior to enactment, New Jersey was one of only four states (including New York, Massachusetts and Texas) that had not adopted some form of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act… Continue Reading
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