On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in Nosal v. United States, 16-1344. Nosal asked the Court to determine whether a person violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act’s prohibition of accessing a computer “without authorization” when using someone else’s credentials (with that other user’s permission) after the owner of the computer expressly revoked the first person’s own access rights. In denying certiorari, the Court effectively killed the petitioner’s legal challenge to his conviction in a long-running case that we have extensively covered here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (among other places). The denial of certiorari leaves further development of the scope of the CFAA in the hands of the lower courts. Continue Reading Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Password-Sharing Case, Leaving Scope of Criminal Liability Under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Unclear

Earlier this week, the United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, against several unidentified UPS pilots, who are referred to in the complaint as “John Does 1-5.” The lawsuit alleges that “[i]n August 2017, certain UPS employees developed strategic plans regarding the Company’s aircraft. These plans were developed for, among other things, reporting to senior executives of the Company in late August 2017 so that they could make certain strategic business and financial decisions. Portions of these plans were included in a PowerPoint presentation created by this limited group of UPS employees (the “PowerPoint”). In preparation for the meeting, a very limited number of UPS employees had access to the PowerPoint for the purpose of its drafting and editing.” (Complaint, ¶ 7.) The lawsuit goes on to allege that the PowerPoint contained highly confidential and trade secret information. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.) Continue Reading Big Brown v. PowerPoint Pilferers in Trade Secret Spat

As a special feature of our blog—special guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Jonathan Karchmer, a senior managing consultant at iDiscovery Solutions.

Determining whether programs or malware actually ran on a system is an important goal of seasoned examiners when investigating computer evidence. Generally, there are several artifacts left behind anytime executables are run—regardless of whether the program is Outlook, Chrome, or something malicious. Today we’ll cover some artifacts we encounter on Windows systems. Continue Reading Locating Digital Breadcrumbs: Programs Can Run, But They Can’t Hide

The Massachusetts legislature is back at it again. Under new leadership, the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development recently scheduled a hearing for October 31, 2017 on the non-compete reform bills proposed in January of this year. While we know little about the hearing, the bills to be discussed are presumably Senate Bill S.988 and companion House Bill H.2366. These identical bills were filed in January 2017 by the same legislators who began this process back in 2009, Senator William Brownsberger and Representative Lori Ehrlich.

As we previously reported, the proposed law brings many past proposals to the table with some new additions as well. We also reported in July and November of 2016 that the House and the Senate were unable to bridge their differences and agree on a compromise bill that year. For a detailed overview of the bills likely to be discussed in the upcoming hearing, please see our prior report.

We will continue to monitor these developments and report back with any updates. Perhaps 2017 is finally the year for non-compete and trade secret reform in Massachusetts after all. Readers of this blog know all too well, however, that this may just be another of the many attempts that the Massachusetts Legislature is unable to see through to its fruition.

Social media and related issues in the workplace can be a headache for employers. There is no denying that social media has transformed the way that companies conduct business. In light of the rapid evolution of social media, companies today face significant legal challenges on a variety of issues, ranging from employee privacy and protected activity to data practices, identity theft, cybersecurity, and protection of intellectual property.

On September 28th at 12:00 p.m. Central, in Seyfarth’s fifth installment in its Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Justin Beyer, Ryan Behndleman, and Dawn Mertineit will discuss the relationship between trade secrets and social media.

The panel will specifically address the following topics:

  • The interplay between social media privacy laws and workplace investigations and how developing internal company policy and/or contracts can protect company assets
  • Defining, understanding, and protecting trade secrets in social media
  • How courts are interpreting ownership of social media accounts and whether social media sites constitute property
  • How to prevent trade secret misappropriation or distribution through social media channels
  • The interplay between protection of company information and ownership of company accounts in the social media age

Please join us for this informative webinar.

A recent decision from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant accused of conspiring to misappropriate its competitor’s trade secrets. By a 4-3 decision in North Highland Inc. v. Jefferson Machine & Tool Inc., 2017 WI 75 (July 6, 2017), the Court found that plaintiff North Highland, Inc. (“North Highland”) had failed to present sufficient evidence of misappropriation or conspiracy to proceed beyond the summary judgment stage, prompting a notably sharp exchange with dissenting Chief Justice Patience D. Roggensack and a second dissent by two other justices.

Highland is a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of industrial products. One of the companies it distributed its products to was Bay Plastics, Inc., owned by Frederick Wells. Prior to 2011, Wells decided to form a separate company to manufacture the products which Bay Plastics sold, including some of the products which it purchased from North Highland. Wells formed Jefferson Machine & Tool Inc. (“Jefferson Machine”) along with Dwain Trewyn—Wells owned 75% of Jefferson Machine and Trewyn owned the remaining 25%. At the time of Jefferson Machine’s formation, Trewyn was employed by North Highland in sales. Trewyn did not have a non-competition agreement with North Highland, but also did not inform North Highland that he would also be working at Jefferson Machine. Continue Reading Wisconsin High Court Affirms High Summary Judgment Bar to Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims

The use of open file sharing platforms in business continues to increase in 2017; Dropbox alone has over 200,000 active business accounts. Unfortunately, the convenience of these platforms and the increase in use by businesses attracts the attention of hackers as well. File sharing platforms and accounts have a high “hack value”—the overall value of the accounts on the dark web—due to the relative ease with which account can be obtained and the sensitivity of the information stored on these platforms.

The risk associated with the use of file share platforms is twofold. First, company supported file share is attractive to attackers because it is guaranteed to contain sensitive information. Second, file share platforms available to employees outside of the company—e.g. the employee Google Drive account—may be used to store company information, but likely do not use the same security standards as those enforced by the company. Attacks on file share platforms are also very real. In August of 2016 Dropbox forced users to reset their passwords based on a breach—60 million account credentials compromised—that had been discovered but was executed four years earlier in 2012. Continue Reading File Share Platforms and Business Risk

As a special feature of our blog—special guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Charlie Platt, a director at iDiscovery Solutions.

It’s Friday afternoon and the conversation goes a little like this, “Wait, what? They’re leaving? Where are they going? Is there any opportunity to help them reconsider?”

When a key employee departs an organization, it can take a toll on clients and colleagues, productivity, and morale. What follows is a rush of activity: current projects are reviewed, transition plans are quickly drawn up and put in place, and decisions are made about how to replace the departing employee and how to communicate the departure to the rest of the firm and clients.  Continue Reading Key Employee Departures and Trade Secret Risk Assessment

On September 7, at 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Robert Milligan will present “Understanding and Exploring the DTSA” CLE webinar.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 establishes federal jurisdiction over trade secret theft and creates a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation. It affords damages and injunctive relief and further allows an aggrieved party to obtain an ex parte seizure of property necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of a trade secret. However, the law also provides immunity for certain disclosures, such as in a court filing under seal or to a government official for the purpose of reporting a suspected violation of law. Notice of the immunity provisions must be included in any contract or agreement with an employee that governs the use of a trade secret or other confidential information. Continue Reading Robert Milligan to Present “Understanding and Exploring the DTSA” CLE Webinar

In Seyfarth’s fourth webinar in its series of 2017 Trade Secrets Webinars, Seyfarth attorneys Robert Milligan and Joshua Salinas were joined by Jim Vaughn, one of California’s leading computer forensics experts, presented Trade Secret Protection: What Every Employer Needs to Know. The panel focused on how to help employers navigate the tricky trade secrets waters and provided best practices for trade secret protection.

As a conclusion to this well-received webinar, we compiled a summary of takeaways: Continue Reading Webinar Recap! Trade Secret Protection: What Every Employer Needs to Know