A recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania reinforces the importance of the timing of purported misconduct in alleged violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). In Teva Pharmaceutical USA, Inc. v. Sandhu, et al., 2018 WL 617991 (Jan. 30, 2018), Judge Savage found that a defendant former executive could not be liable under the CFAA for conduct that occurred while she had authorized access to computers from which she misappropriated trade secrets. Id. at *1. However, the court also found that CFAA claims could be brought against the recipients of those trade secrets under an “indirect access” theory, and that DTSA claims could be brought on the basis of activity that began before the enactment of the DTSA but continued to occur after its passage. Continue Reading Federal Court Dismisses CFAA Claims Against Former Executive, Allows CFAA and DTSA Claims Against Competitor in Pharmaceuticals Trade Secret Dispute

This post originally appeared on the Workplace Class Action blog.

Seyfarth Synopsis: There are currently pending at least four class actions claiming that provisions contained in franchise agreements prohibiting the hiring of employees of other intrabrand franchisees without the consent of their employer violate the antitrust laws.  That being said, in 1993 the Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of a franchisor in a similar “no-hire” case.  It reasoned that due to the control the franchisor exercised over its franchisees, the franchisor and its franchisees were incapable of conspiring in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. While the so-called “single enterprise” defense is potentially available, franchisors should be cognizant that in developing that defense, they may create evidence or admissions that would support a subsequent claim that the franchisors are joint employers of their franchisees’ employees.  In light of the availability of other defenses, franchisor employers should assess whether the joint employer risk is worth accepting in order to pursue the single enterprise defense.  Continue Reading Franchise “No-Hire” Agreement Class Actions And The Single Enterprise Defense

Seyfarth Partner and Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Compete Practice Group Co-Chair Robert Milligan is on the panel for the “Discovery in Trade Secret Litigation” session on May 4 at The Sedona Conference Working Group on Electronic Document Retention & Production 2018 Midyear Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The “Discovery in Trade Secret Litigation” sessions will include an introduction to The Sedona Conference’s new Working Group 12, and issues raised by the rising tide of trade secret litigation. These types of cases often involve discovery of personal devices and third-party apps, leading to a perfect storm of privilege, privacy, and proportionality considerations while handling proprietary and confidential information. The panel will also address trade secret identification issues and protective orders.

The Midyear Meeting is critical to move existing Working Group work product forward, and the topics have been chosen to help identify where The Sedona Conference can provide further guidance.

Among the Featured Sessions Are:

  • New Technology and eDiscovery Competence: Explore the impact of technology on discovery, including AI, Blockchain, IoT, and Apps. Do you know how to get information from these sources or audit the data in them?
  • GDPR for the U.S. eDiscovery lawyer: How to safely navigate cross-border EU/U.S. data transfers––making the best of tough decisions and avoiding problems on both sides.
  • Guidance from in-house lawyers to law firms and other legal service providers: Tips for outside counsel and vendors to add more value to eDiscovery engagements.

For more information, to see the full agenda, or to register, click here: https://thesedonaconference.org/node/108211

This post originally appeared on the Workplace Class Action blog

Seyfarth Synopsis: True to his word, the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has announced the first of a number of anticipated no-poach enforcement actions. While this was a civil proceeding, the Department of Justice has said that in some cases it may treat the conduct as criminal. Many executives and HR professionals are unaware that the antitrust laws apply to the employment marketplace. Thus, if they have not done so already, employers should consider the implementation of compliance programs to make sure that appropriate employees are aware of these developments and risks. Continue Reading DOJ Announces First of a Number of Anticipated No-Poach Enforcement Actions – What Should Employers Do Now?

Late last week, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for mandamus in which the petitioner sought an order compelling a plaintiff to identify the specific trade secrets it contends were misappropriated, bucking what petitioner claimed is a “growing consensus” among the states.

In August 2015, B.J. Reynolds resigned from Sanchez Oil & Gas Corp. and began working as the vice president of operations for Terra Energy Partners LLC. In early March 2016, Terra hired two other Sanchez employees, Wes Hobbs and Mark Mewshaw. Later that month, Sanchez brought suit against Terra for misappropriation of trade secrets, alleging that after leaving the company, Hobbs and Mewshaw stole various electronic data involving processes to drill oil wells and to secure cost savings from vendors.

During the course of discovery, Sanchez produced approximately 170,000 pages of documents that allegedly contained the misappropriated trade secrets. According to Terra’s petition for writ of mandamus, however, Sanchez never specifically identified what trade secrets it accused Terra of stealing. As a result, Terra filed a motion to compel Sanchez to describe the “steps or elements of any trade secret processes that it claims were misappropriated,” arguing that Sanchez’s “data dump” ran afoul of its disclosure obligations under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Terra also argued that it would cost its expert witnesses more than $1 million in fees to review the nearly 200,000 pages of documents Sanchez produced, and even that would not identify the specific trade secrets Sanchez claims had been misappropriated.

The trial court denied Terra’s motion to compel, and Terra filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the First Court of Appeals in Houston. Although the appellate court stayed the lower court’s proceedings, it also ultimately rejected Terra’s request.

In its petition for writ of mandamus filed with the Texas Supreme Court, Terra argued that there is a “growing consensus” among the 46 states which have adopted laws similar to the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act that a plaintiff must disclose the allegedly misappropriated trade secrets “with reasonable particularity at an early stage in the litigation.” Terra therefore urged the Texas Supreme Court to follow suit.

Sanchez, in response, argued that mandamus relief should be denied because Terra was improperly seeking to delay the underlying trial and to impose additional, unwarranted discovery obligations on Sanchez.

The Texas Supreme Court denied Terra’s petition without explanation.

In re Terra Energy Partners LLC et al., case number 18-0120, in the Supreme Court of Texas.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP is pleased to be a Global Sponsor at ITechLaw’s 2018 World Technology Conference in Seattle, May 16-18.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel
411 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

ITechLaw is a not-for-profit organization established to inform and educate lawyers about the unique legal issues arising from the evolution, production, marketing, acquisition and use of information and communications technology.

The World Conference will feature a wide-ranging program and invaluable networking opportunities that will focus on cutting-edge legal topics and will provide practical insight into the latest developments in technology law.

This year, Seyfarth Shaw Partner Robert B. Milligan is on ITechLaw’s Board of Directors and is the Co-Chair of the Local Representative Committee. Seyfarth Shaw Partner Eric Barton will be on a panel for the “Cyber Vulnerabilities & Crime” session on Friday. This session will focus on a broad range of issues influenced by the vulnerability of today’s data, including the protection of data in Russia, handling an online crisis, ransomware, and protecting IP. Seyfarth Shaw Partner Daniel Hart is also scheduled to attend and participate at the conference.

Please stop by our table during the conference to learn about our Intellectual Property, Corporate, Global Privacy & Security, and Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes Practice Groups.

For more information click here: https://www.itechlaw.org/seattle2018

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 Oliver Treidler, Managing Director of TP&C GmbH.

Introduction:

Any business professor will tell you that the value of companies has been shifting markedly from tangible assets, “bricks and mortar,” to intangible assets like intellectual property (IP) in recent years. Continue Reading The Valuation of Trade Secrets

In Seyfarth’s second installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Scott Humphrey, Erik Weibust, and Marcus Mintz focused on trade secret and client relationship considerations in the banking and financial services industry, with a particular focus on a firm’s relationship with its FINRA members. In addition, the panel covered what to do if trade secrets are improperly removed or disclosed or if a former employee is violating his/her restrictive covenant agreements, how to prosecute a case against a former employee who is a FINRA member, and the impact of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting on trade secrets and client relationships.

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

  • Remember that you can seek court injunctive relief (Temporary Restraining Order and, possibly, Preliminary Injunction) before proceeding in FINRA
  • The definition of a trade secret varies, but you must take adequate steps to protect them as a company, and the information cannot be publicly available or easily discovered, to merit enforcement under the law.
  • Employers can take steps at all stages to protect their confidential information—don’t forget to implement on-boarding and off-boarding procedures, as well as policies and procedures that will be in effect during an employee’s tenure, to protect your information before a problem arises.

Tervis Tumbler Company, the maker of the infamous insulated tumblers, has found itself in hot water with a former supplier, Trinity Graphic. Trinity filed suit in the Middle District of Florida against Tervis and its new supplier, Southern Graphics, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets under both the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and Florida trade secret statute along with breach of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement, fraud, aiding and abetting, and civil conspiracy. Trinity seeks compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages, disgorgement of profits related to the misappropriation and attorney’s fees and costs.

In support of its claims, Trinity alleges that it “revolutionized” the creation of tumbler inserts with the development of its “Trinity Wrap.” Trinity further alleges that before it created the Trinity Wrap at Tervis’ request, Tervis was limited to the use of “crude and costly embroidery or flat one-sided images.” In creating the Trinity Wrap, Trinity purports to have developed two trade secrets: a printing method that reduces static electricity during the printing process, resulting in increased visual sharpness and a second printing method using a state of the art printer to perfectly align images printed on both sides of a transparent medium. Continue Reading Popular Insulated Cup Manufacturer in Hot Water over Alleged Trade Secret Misappropriation

The 2017 Year in Review is a compilation of our significant blog posts from throughout last year and is categorized by specific topics such as: Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Non-Compete & Restrictive Covenants, Legislation, International, and Social Media and Privacy. As demonstrated by our specific blog entries, including our Top Developments/HeadlinesTrade Secrets Webinar Series – Year in Review and our dedicated page concerning DTSA legislation, our blog authors stay on top of the latest developments in this area of law and provide timely and entertaining posts on significant new cases, legal developments, and legislation.

The 2017 Review also includes links to the recordings of all webinars in the 2017 Trade Secrets Webinar Series. More information on our upcoming 2018 webinars is available in the program listing contained in this Review. Our highly successful blog and webinar series further demonstrate that Seyfarth Shaw’s national Trade Secret, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes Practice Group is one of the country’s preeminent groups dedicated to trade secrets, restrictive covenants, computer fraud, and unfair competition matters.

Clients and friends of the firm can request a digital, CD, or printed copy of the 2017 Review below.