Posts Tagged: "Trade Secrets"

Making a Federal Case out of Trade Secrets

“The most important change was that DTSA allowed someone claiming their trade secret was being used improperly to go into a federal court,” explained Jacoby. “In most situations, the employer and the employee in a trade secret dispute are likely to be in the same state. Usually, two citizens of the same state can’t bring a lawsuit into a federal court unless an independent basis for federal jurisdiction over the case exists. So, if my client wants to sue the business next door to his yoga school for blasting out heavy metal during his meditation classes, I literally can’t make a federal case out of it.” However, DTSA changed that rule for trade secret protection — that claim now can be brought into a federal court even if the parties are both from the same state. Up until DTSA, that only happened if you had some other jurisdictional basis to be in federal court, such as the parties were from different states and met the jurisdictional amount for a diversity claim, or perhaps if you sued under another federal statute relating to IP.

IP Strategy is a Tricky Balancing Act for Pharmaceuticals

The 20 years of protection afforded by a patent is intended to promote innovation by allowing inventors a chance to recoup development costs and derive a profit from their efforts. However, in the pharmaceutical industry, the practical duration of protection is often substantially shorter since obtaining a patent is just one piece—albeit a critical one–of bringing a drug to market.

Do You Know How to Protect What’s Yours?

In the wake of recent judicial and legislative developments, protecting “what’s yours” has become even more complex. Many businesses and intellectual property lawyers have appropriately favored a strategy focused on obtaining patents when available to protect intellectual assets. However, in recent years there have been unprecedented changes to the American patent system… Developments in patent law have caused owners of intellectual capital to evaluate all available means for its protection including considering when appropriate the protection of innovations as trade secrets.

View from the Courtroom: What to Expect When You Try to Get a TRO in Your Unfair Competition Case

Experience shows that most unfair competition or trade secret theft issues can be resolved without the need for litigation; often, an exchange of letters between the parties’ respective attorneys is sufficient to resolve the matter. However, litigation is sometimes unavoidable, and when it occurs, the employers involved are often surprised by how fast an unfair competition case can move to a practical conclusion, and how little time there might be to prepare for the crucial court hearing… The TRO hearing is often the be-all and end-all of unfair competition litigation because, if it is granted, the unfair competitive activities are immediately stopped, any stolen trade secrets are returned, and the competitive damage to the plaintiff-employer is contained or stopped. The case is usually thereafter resolved by a settlement. Essentially, if the TRO is granted, there typically is not much else of consequence to litigate between the parties.

Was America’s Industrial Revolution Based on Trade Secret Theft?

Is it reasonable to say that the U.S. got an unfair head start on the Industrial Revolution by stealing secrets from Britain? I don’t think so. Industrial espionage had been practiced in Europe throughout the 18th Century, with the British and French particularly active, even using diplomats to get access to valuable commercial information. Moreover, Britain, like some other European countries, frequently granted “patents of importation,” which didn’t require the applicant to be an inventor, if the invention was new within the country’s borders. In this way, governments regularly encouraged people to “steal” ideas from abroad and bring them home. This opportunistic behavior by nations was seen as acceptable only because of the mercantilist attitude of the time, where national interest was all that mattered. It would be another hundred years before international treaties were established to guarantee respect for foreign intellectual property laws, creating the more integrated environment for IP that promotes global commerce today.

Developing a Plan for Employee Departures in California

As discussed elsewhere in this Take 5, although California employers generally cannot restrict an employee’s ability to work elsewhere, California employers can protect their trade secrets and confidential information. One pillar of a successful plan to do so is having an employee departure protocol.

Critical Importance of Realistically Identifying and Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

California employers often face an upward battle when it comes to protecting against competitive activity by former employees… In order to safeguard their trade secrets, companies doing business in California need to be on the offensive to ensure that they are properly protected at both the beginning and end of the employment relationship. At the beginning of an employment relationship, employers may set the groundwork for protecting trade secrets by entering into confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements with their employees. These agreements will help establish one element of a claim under the UTSA, which is that the employer took reasonable steps to identify its trade secrets and maintain their confidentiality.

The Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Trade Secret Law

The current extraterritorial reach of U.S. trade secret law may seem ironic given trade secret law’s “local” roots. In the United States, common law trade secret principles emerged through a diverse patchwork of state court decisions addressing local commercial disputes. These local common law principles were first distilled in the Restatement of Torts and the Restatement of Unfair Competition and then codified in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in 1979. Underscoring the local prerogative of trade secret law, state legislatures modified and tailored the Uniform Trade Secrets Act to reflect their state-specific concerns and needs. For many years, despite a push for national uniformity, a number of states chose not to adopt a statutory scheme at all (some still haven’t).

Alphabet’s Waymo files patent and trade secret lawsuit against Uber

Waymo’s suit includes counts of infringement for each of the four patents asserted in the case. The suit also includes counts for violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and state claims for violations of the California Uniform Trade Secret Act. Waymo is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, damages for patent infringement including trebled damages for infringement of the ‘922, ‘464 and ‘273 patents and punitive damages among other forms of relief.

Intellectual Property Rights in UK Law

There are several different forms of intellectual property rights available in the United Kingdom, each with its own formality, level of protection, and duration period. It is crucial that any individual who creates a product, or who believes that they would benefit through protecting their intellectual property ensures that they follow the correct procedure… Many individuals will incorrectly assert a claim for copyright infringement. However, copyright infringement is a niche protection right and is only afforded to ‘artistic output’. No formality is required to register this right in the United Kingdom, which is different than U.S. practice.

Revisiting the Standard NDA After ZeniMax v. Oculus

ZeniMax offers useful insights for enterprises seeking to maximize the benefits of NDAs while minimizing the time and effort needed to negotiate them… Most technology enterprises are well-acquainted with NDAs. On the positive side, they recognize the importance of entering into NDAs with outside parties before disclosing confidential information, whether in the context of discussions related to potential commercial transactions, funding, or joint R&D projects, or for other purposes, such as to support product-related investigations or certification activities. On the negative side, enterprises commonly associate the negotiation of NDAs with cumbersome paperwork, obstacles, and delay.

A Few Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Section 101 Jurisprudence

I am particularly concerned about the impact this case law has on the patent application process. Instead of focusing on novelty and clarity, examiners and applicants alike spend time struggling to make sense of Section 101 jurisprudence. That is a serious misallocation of the limited resources of both patent examiners and applicants, leading to longer examination times and less reliable patent grants. Delays in patent review and patent grants can interrupt a startup’s lifecycle, negatively influencing employment growth, sales, and subsequent innovation. This is just one of several factors lengthening patent examination, but it is one that may warrant a congressional response.

Texas jury awards $500 million in copyright and trade secret case against Facebook’s Oculus VR

On Wednesday, February 1st, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (N.D. Tex.) entered a case verdict which orders virtual reality developer Oculus VR to pay $500 million to Rockville, MD-based interactive computing firm ZeniMax Media Inc. The verdict is the latest activity in a case involving allegations of copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation levied against Oculus, now a subsidiary of social media giant Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) of Menlo Park, CA.

Retractable roof construction at Arthur Ashe Stadium is subject of patent infringement, trade secret suit

On Wednesday, January 11th, retractable roof system developer Uni-Systems LLC of Minneapolis, MN, filed a patent infringement suit against multiple defendants, including the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The lawsuit alleges that multiple defendants conspired to infringe upon Uni-Systems’ patents and trade secrets by planning to build a retractable roof over a USTA tennis stadium in New York. The patent infringement suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (E.D.N.Y.).

Trade Secrets Directive: Its effect and the impact of Brexit

If you ask ten different people, you will probably get ten different answers. In fact, fewer than half of the European Union’s 28 member states actually have a clear legal definition at all for a trade secret. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the ways in which trade secrets are defined and treated varies considerably between the EU’s member states. These inconsistencies make it tricky for companies to do business in the EU. Somewhat belatedly, the EU has recognized the problems posed and, in order to address them, it has taken the step of harmonizing and upgrading the existing legal landscape by passing the Trade Secrets Directive.


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