On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, at 12:00 p.m. Central Time, in Seyfarth’s fourth installment of its 2019 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys will focus on the enforcement of non-competes and how the difficulty of enforcement of these restrictive covenants vary by state. Any company that seeks to use non-compete and non-solicitation agreements to protect its trade secrets, confidential information,
Continue Reading Upcoming Webinar! Enforcement of Non-Competes: Increasing Difficulty Depending on State

On March 7, 2019, a group of six United States senators from both sides of the aisle submitted a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a federal investigation into the use of non-compete agreements on the basis that their widening use in recent years raises concerns about their negative impact on both workers and the national economy.  Specifically, the letter asks the GAO to assess the following three questions:

  1. What is known about the prevalence of non-compete agreements in particular fields, including low-wage occupations?
  2. What is known about the effects of non-compete agreements on the workforce and the economy, including employment, wages and benefits, innovation, and entrepreneurship?
  3. What steps have selected states taken to limit the use of these agreements, and what is known about the effect these actions have had on employees and employers?


Continue Reading U.S. Senators Request Review of Non-Compete Agreements by the Government Accountability Office

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

On Friday, May 18, Eric Barton participated in a panel discussion at the 2018 ITechLaw World Technology Conference, updating attorneys from around the globe on the latest developments in cyber vulnerabilities and crime. In today’s world, businesses and individuals face the certain knowledge that electronic systems are not entirely secure. Mr. Barton’s presentation provided “real world” guidance on how companies
Continue Reading Eric Barton Presents at 2018 ITechLaw World Technology Law Conference

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
Continue Reading Seyfarth Trade Secrets Attorneys to Participate in ITechLaw 2018 World Technology Law Conference in Seattle

On March 1–2, 2018, five Seyfarth attorneys will be attending the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s annual Trade Secret Law Summit in San Diego, California, one of the preeminent events for trade secret practitioners in the nation. Erik Weibust is on the planning committee for the Summit and will be moderating a panel entitled “The Ethics of Law Firm Cybersecurity,”
Continue Reading Seyfarth Takes The 2018 AIPLA Trade Secret Law Summit By Storm

On December 6-8, the inaugural Sedona Conference on trade secrets took place in Scottsdale, Arizona. The invitation-only conference brought together outside counsel, in-house counsel, and experts to have an in-depth discussion of developments in trade secrets law.

The conference provided us with some great insights into the issues on practitioners’ and companies’ minds. After a post-conference debrief, a few common notes emerged, and we have prepared a short summary of what we consider to be a few key takeaways. 
Continue Reading Report on Sedona Conference on Trade Secrets

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

shutterstock_330853187It is well known that 18 U.S.C. § 1836, et seq. (the Defend Trade Secrets Act or “DTSA”) finally provides a mechanism for pursing trade secret claims in federal court. A recent decision, however, serves as an excellent reminder that failure to establish personal jurisdiction over a defendant will nevertheless result in dismissal of your DTSA claim—and potentially your entire case. So, before you rush off and file that DTSA claim in your local federal court, carefully consider if it’s really the right court after all.

In Gold Medal Products Co. v. Bell Flavors and Fragrances, Inc., 1:16-CV-00365, 2017 WL 1365798 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 14, 2017), the plaintiff filed suit in the U.S.D.C. for Southern District of Ohio against its former employee, William Sunderhaus, and his new employer, Bell Flavors, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information. As part of its lawsuit, Plaintiff asserted a DTSA claim, which Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Don’t Forget to Establish Personal Jurisdiction in Defend Trade Secrets Act Cases

shutterstock_394537450A lawyer’s favorite phrase might be “it depends.” And when an employer asks whether its customer lists qualify as a trade secret, “it depends” is often the answer. But even if it’s difficult to definitively state whether customer lists qualify as a trade secret, the converse—whether customer lists might not constitute a trade secret—can be helpful to assessing how much protection a court will provide.

With the advent of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”), no state categorically denies trade-secrets status to customer lists. That’s because the default definition of a “trade secret” under the UTSA includes compilations of information, and several states modified the default definition to explicitly include customer lists as potential trade secrets. See, e.g., Conn Gen. Stat. § 35-51(d); O.C.G.A. § 10-1-761(4); Or. Rev. Stat. § 646.461(4); 12 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5302. Other states opted to mention that a “listing of names, addresses, or telephone numbers” may qualify as a trade secret if the listing, like any trade secret, has independent economic value because it is not readily ascertainable and is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.  See, e.g., Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 7-74-102(4); Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 1333.61(D).

States still, however, apply varying degrees of scrutiny before conceding that customer lists constitute a trade secret. In more skeptical jurisdictions, courts decline to confer trade-secrets status on customer lists for one of three reasons.
Continue Reading Are My Customer Lists a Trade Secret?