Throughout 2018, Seyfarth Shaw’s dedicated Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes Practice Group hosted a series of CLE webinars that addressed significant issues facing clients today in this important and ever-changing area of law. The series consisted of seven webinars:

  1. 2017 National Year in Review: What You Need to Know About the Recent Cases/Developments in Trade Secrets, Non-Compete and Computer Fraud Law
  2. Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships in the Financial Services Industry
  3. The Anatomy of a Trade Secret Audit
  4. Protecting Trade Secrets from Cyber and Other Threats
  5. 2018 Massachusetts Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Reform
  6. Protecting Trade Secrets Abroad and Enforcing Rights Abroad and in the U.S.
  7. Criminal Trade Secret Theft: What You Need to Know

As a conclusion to this well-received 2018 webinar series, we compiled a list of key takeaway points for each program, which are listed below. For those clients who missed any of the programs in this year’s series, recordings of the webinars are available on the blog, or you may click on the title of each available webinar below for the online recording. Seyfarth Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Compete attorneys are happy to discuss presenting similar presentations to your company for CLE credit. Seyfarth will continue its trade secrets webinar programming in 2019, and we will release the 2019 trade secrets webinar series topics in the coming weeks. Continue Reading 2018 Trade Secrets and Non-Competes Webinar Series Year in Review

As a special feature of our blog—guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Gilles Rouvier, founding partner of Lawways

Context

On July 31st, 2018, France adopted a law on trade secret protection, loi n°2018-670 (hereafter “French Trade Secret Law“). The aim of this French Trade Secret Law is to offer companies protection for their economic and strategic information. This legislation implements the Directive 2016/943/EU on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use, and disclosure, enacted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) on June 8th, 2016. Continue Reading New Trade Secrets Law for France

On November 13, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, affirmed the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas’s denial of prevailing party attorneys’ fees in a matter of first impression under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”). In short, the Fifth Circuit held that a dismissal without prejudice of a DTSA case does not support an award of prevailing party attorney’s fees. Continue Reading The Limits of “Taking the Lead Early”: A Dismissal Without Prejudice Will Not Support Defend Trade Secrets Act Attorney’s Fees

As we have discussed on this Blog over the past several years, the Protocol for Broker Recruiting (“Protocol”) allows for reciprocal poaching of brokers. More specifically, if a broker leaves one Protocol firm for another Protocol firm, the broker can (a) take certain account information (client names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and account title information) to his/her new firm and (b) solicit the clients he/she serviced at his/her former firm. Naturally then, the Protocol’s requirements conflict with confidentiality and restrictive covenant provisions that are commonly found in broker employment agreements and firm policies. Continue Reading Former Protocol Members Are Stepping Up Their Restrictive Covenant Enforcement

It is well known that courts interpreting their respective states’ versions of the Uniform Trade Secret Act (“UTSA”) have not uniformly applied UTSA’s preemption provision. While some states hold that their acts only preempt claims involving information that constitutes a “trade secret,” others hold that their acts also preempt claims based on information that may not technically meet the “trade secret” definition. See, e.g., Spitz v. Proven Winners N. Am., LLC, 759 F.3d 724, 733 (7th Cir. 2014) (concluding that Illinois’s UTSA preempts claims “that are essentially claims of trade secret misappropriation, even when the alleged ‘trade secret’ does not fall within the Act’s definition”); Am. Biomedical Grp., Inc. v. Techtrol, Inc., 374 P.3d 820, 827 (Okla. 2016) (holding that Oklahoma’s UTSA preempts “conflicting tort claims only for misappropriation of a trade secret” and “does not displace tort claims for information not meeting this definition” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). Continue Reading 5th Circuit Provides Guidance on the Scope of Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act’s Preemption Provision

A small, Chicago-based magnetic picture frame developer’s claims for trade secret misappropriation against a photo album manufacturer will be headed to trial after an Illinois federal district court largely denied the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. Puroon, Inc.’s (“Puroon”) founder and CEO, Hyunju Song, developed the “Memory Book,” “an all-in-one convertible photo frame, album, and scrapbook” that included magnetic openings and an “interchangeable outside view.” In 2013, Puroon launched a website displaying the Memory Book and Song attended various trade shows where attendees were able to interact with the product. Song also sent samples of the Memory Book to representatives of certain retailers without requiring them to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Continue Reading Are Mom-and-Pop Companies Treated Differently When it Comes to Abandoning Trade Secrets? A Federal Court in Illinois Says Yes.

Many companies assume that they need to choose between patent protections or trade secret protections for their intellectual property, thereby foregoing an important tool in their arsenal to protect key company assets. Some believe that these protections are diametrically opposed, as patents offer protection of intellectual property in exchange for public disclosure, whereas trade secrets offer protection for ideas, recipes, information, and technology, which has been kept confidential. However, despite the misconception that they are incompatible, trade secret and patent protections can be complementary means to protect IP, as evidenced by a recent Federal Circuit opinion which explored the intersection of patent law and trade secrets.  Continue Reading Belt and Suspenders: Recent Federal Circuit Case Highlights Importance of Using Trade Secret and Patent Protections for IP

In Seyfarth’s seventh installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Andrew Boutros and John Schleppenbach focused on criminal liability for trade secret theft, including four key statutes, key elements for criminal prosecution, civil RICO under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, and best practices for avoiding misappropriation and for handling misappropriation when it occurs.

As a conclusion to this well-received webinar, we compiled a summary of takeaways:

  • The theft of trade secrets is not only a civil violation — it is also a criminal act subject to serious fines and imprisonment. In an ever-increasing technological age where a company’s crown jewels can be downloaded onto a thumb drive, victims and corporate violators must be mindful of the growing role that law enforcement plays in this active area.  And, in doing so, working with experienced counsel is critical to interfacing with law enforcement (especially depending on which side of the “v.” you are on), while still maintaining control of the civil litigation.
  • With the advent of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, intellectual capital owners have a powerful new tool to both protect assets with as well potentially defend against. As such, processes must be in place to carefully screen new employees as well as provide vigilance over exiting employees so that one can guard against theft and be prepared to address purported theft brought to ones doorstep with a new hire.  Finally, it is important to review and update agreements with the latest in suggested and required language to maximize protections that is best accomplished through annual reviews of local and federal statutes with one’s counsel.
  • “Protect your own home” by putting tools in place before a trade secret misappropriation occurs. This includes taking a look at your employment agreements to make sure they are updated to comply with the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and that they have been signed. In addition, make sure you have agreements in place with third parties (e.g., clients, vendors, contractors, suppliers) to protect your proprietary information. Finally, secure your network and facilities by distributing materials on a need-to-know basis: Don’t let your entire workforce have access.

On November 1, 2018, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s ruling in AMN Healthcare, Inc. v. Aya Healthcare Services, Inc. et al., No. D071924, 2018 WL 5669154 (Cal. App. 2018), which (1) invalidated the plaintiff’s non-solicitation of employees provision in its Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements (CNDAs), (2) enjoined AMN from enforcing or attempting to enforce the employee non-solicitation provision in its CNDA with any of its former employees, and (3) awarded $169,000 in reasonable attorneys’ fees to defendants for plaintiff’s use of the provision.

The case is a significant decision which may impact some employers’ continued use of employee non-solicitation provisions with their California employees, at least in certain industries. There is now a split in California authorities and the issue is likely ripe for California Supreme Court guidance.

AMN and Aya are competitors in the business of staffing temporary healthcare professionals, namely providing “travel nurses” to medical care facilities across the country.  When former employees, named as individual defendants in the action and who worked as travel nurse recruiters in California, left AMN for Aya, AMN brought suit against Aya and the former employees, asserting 11 causes of action, including for breach of contract and trade secret misappropriation. Continue Reading California Appellate Panel Affirms Injunction Blocking Use of Employee Non-Solicitation Provision in Dispute Between Travel Nurse Providers

As a special feature of our blog—guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Donal O’Connell, Managing Director of Chawton Innovation Services Ltd., and David Cohen. 

Trade Secret’s New Found Prominence:

As we both have written previously, the changing nature of technology, product development and sales, and the patent enforcement landscape, have given trade secrets a new-found prominence.

Trade secrets are now becoming a much more significant part of a company’s value. As a result, trade secret asset management is becoming (and if not, it should become) a regular part of company board discussions and review.  Continue Reading Fiduciary Duty with Respect to Trade Secret Asset Management