On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) into law. President Obama publicly supported this legislation and efforts generally directed to strengthen trade secret protections within the U.S. economy. As we previously reported on May 3, 2016 and November 24, 2015, trade secret misappropriation was formerly treated exclusively as a matter of state law, governed by varied versions of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act as enacted in most states. A lack of uniform enactment of this Act resulted in differences in the application of the law between states, which presented difficulties for trade secret owners seeking to enforce their rights in the general commerce.
Tagged: Trade Secrets
On April 27, 2016, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) passed the House of Representatives with a 410-2 vote. The two no votes were from Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Thomas Massey (R-KY). Earlier this month, on April 4, the Senate passed the DTSA by a unanimous vote of 87-0. Now, the DTSA heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015 Would Create a Federal Private Right of Action for the Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
On July 29, 2015, with bipartisan support, Congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate introduced identical bills, HR 3326 and S. 1890, respectively, entitled, the “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015” (“DTSA 2015”). The proposed legislation attempts to authorize a private civil action in federal court for the misappropriation of a trade secret that is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce. Additionally, the proposed legislations seeks to (a) create a uniform standard for trade secret misappropriation; (b) provide parties pathways to injunctive relief and compensatory damages; and (c) create remedies for trade secret misappropriation that are similar to other violations of intellectual property rights, for example, including exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees available in the event of willful and malicious misappropriation of a trade secret. An interesting feature of the DTSA 2015 is the availability of an ex parte seizure order for plaintiffs fearful of the dissemination of their trade secret(s). The proposed ex parte seizure allows for the government to seize property necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret prior to giving notice of the lawsuit to the defendant.
Propping Open Cracks in Secret Depths of Fracking Chemicals: How the Wyoming Supreme Court Is Demanding More of Companies Seeking Trade Secret Protection
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. § 16-4-203.
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
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 CFAA.
Trade Secrets Litigation: DuPont Wins Property from U.S. Subsidiary as Part of its $920M Damages Award Against the Parent
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.
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.
As most Americans focused on the Congressional efforts to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” IP practitioners noted that Congress passed Senate-amended versions of a bill to amend the Smith-Leahy America Invents Act (AIA) (H.R. 6621) and a bill to increase penalties under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA)(H.R. 6029) on to the White House on January 1, 2013, for signature by President Obama. It is expected that President Obama will sign both bills into law shortly.
New Jersey Superior Court Finds the Recently-Enacted New Jersey Trade Secrets Act Does Not Preempt Common Law Claims
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.
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 NSPA.