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

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

50 State Desktop Reference: What Businesses Need to Know About Non-Compete and Trade Secret Law

It has been an extraordinary year regarding trade secret and non-compete issues. We saw more and more cases filed in federal court asserting claims under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and for alleged violations of non-competes. Some states passed legislation further narrowing the use of non-compete agreements, and some media outlets, academics, and regulators have continued their criticism of such agreements. We expect over the next year, the law to continue to develop regarding the DTSA’s application, definitions, scope, limitations, benefits and interpretation with regard to the immunity provisions. Our 50 State Desktop Reference is a useful guide to know how the law is currently applied in each state.

Seyfarth’s Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud and Non-Competes Practice Group is pleased to provide the 2017-2018 Edition of our one-stop 50 State Desktop Reference, which surveys the most-asked questions related to the use of covenants and intellectual capital protection in all 50 states. For the company executive, in-house counsel, or HR professional, we hope this guide will provide a starting point to answer your questions about protecting your company’s most valuable and confidential assets.

How To Get Your Desktop Reference

To download the pdf of 2017-2018 Edition of the 50 State Desktop Reference, click here.

To request a hard copy of the Desktop Reference, click on the button below.

shutterstock_377009158As a special feature of our blog—special guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Bobby R. Williams, Jr., a senior consultant at iDiscovery Solutions.

When litigation looms or a data preservation notice is sent out, key individuals or parties might try to delete data to avoid discovery – despite well-publicized horror stories regarding data destruction, phone and email wiping, and the risks of spoliation and sanctions. In many cases, if we find an absence of evidence during an examination, we typically also find evidence of destruction. We refer to these individuals as “Wipers.”

Wipers are the folks who roll the dice and try to game the system. They have enough knowledge to know how to destroy data, feel like they can get away with it, and take a chance. “The document is gone, aha!” might say the Wiper. However, Wipers still run into problems they didn’t anticipate. Even if they manage to delete or destroy the incriminating document or email, they’ve usually taken the time to install and run data destruction software, leaving behind associated artifacts showing the download and usage of such software. Another thing Wipers usually don’t consider: they leave behind other artifacts and data that gives us a clear picture of the document. Data showing when the document was created or modified, the folder it was saved in, even who opened it, when, and how many times. In trying to cover up the original footprints, they invariably left new footprints. And sometimes, even when a Wiper believes they completely deleted the document itself, it sometimes resides in a snapshot or backup they did not see. Continue Reading How To Address Wipers In Trade Secret Cases

Robert B. Milligan, Seyfarth Partner and Co-Chair of the Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes Practice Group, will be a speaker for the “Injunctive Relief” panel at the Sedona Conference on Developing Best Practices for Trade Secret Issues on December 8 at 8:30 a.m., in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The panel will discuss:

  • The uses of equitable solutions in trade secret disputes
  • How parties and courts can craft case-specific remedies
  • How to ensure that, while offering the virtue of flexibility, equity is not whim

The Sedona Conference is an assembly of thought leaders in the areas of antitrust laws, complex litigation, and intellectual property rights; and it brings together the brightest minds with the goal of creating practical solutions and recommendations on tipping point issues.

For more information about the Sedona Conference, click here.

shutterstock_594829253As a special feature of our blog—special guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Supreet Singh, a senior consultant at iDiscovery Solutions, Inc. 

It’s hard to believe the first smartphone was released over 20 years ago. At that time, few thought it would become such an integral part of our lives. Additionally, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and its introduction altered the world of digital forensics. Smartphones contain a wealth of personal and sensitive information like passwords, security or access codes, account numbers, electronic communications, and much more. But they are more than mere containers of data. Between the operating system, installed applications, and service providers, there’s a wealth of information that can provide dramatic insight into conversations, activities, habits, preferences, and movements of the phone’s user.

There are essentially three places where smartphone related data can be found: on the phone itself, with mobile app providers (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat, or Yelp), and with the service provider (e.g. AT&T or Verizon). Data from all three sources can be very useful in civil lawsuits, criminal cases, or internal investigations, depending on the needs of the case. Continue Reading The Smartphone: A Treasure Trove of Evidence in Trade Secret Cases

shutterstock_314177504Uber’s ongoing battle with Waymo in the Northern District of California federal court over technology used in self-driving cars provided another significant decision concerning the broad scope of trade secret preemption under California state law.

Waymo accused Levandowski (a former employee) of taking more than 14,000 company files before leaving Waymo and starting his own self-driving truck company (which Uber bought for $680 million). Waymo asserted several claims against Uber for misappropriation of trade secrets under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”). In addition to the trade secret claims, Waymo asserted four claims for patent infringement and one claim for violation of section 17200 of California’s Business and Professions Code. Continue Reading California Federal Court Finds CUTSA Preemption on Unfair Competition Claim in Uber Row