As the global economy falters, a fortunate few companies have seen tremendous growth as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Among the companies benefitting from the shelter-in-place orders currently in effect is Peloton Interactive, Inc. (“Peloton”), which manufactures and distributes home exercise equipment capable of streaming live and pre-recorded classes. Since Peloton’s IPO in late 2019, its shares have jumped over 50%, largely based on its outstanding second quarter results. As people have been shut-out of their gyms, they are frequently turning to alternatives, including Peloton, to stay active (and sane). In full disclosure, that includes the authors of this article and many of our colleagues.
Continue Reading Avoid Spinning Your Wheels: Peloton as a Case Study in the Protection of Customer Goodwill

On May 13, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a joint Public Service Announcement (PSA) about a threat to academic institutions and business entities engaged in COVID-19-related research and development entitled People’s Republic of China (PRC) Targeting of COVID-19 Research Organizations.
Continue Reading FBI and CISA Issue Joint Warning to Academic Institutions and Research Organizations About Targeting of COVID-19 Research

On April 16, 2020, the White House issued its “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” and several states have begun a slow process of emerging from the shutdown. But even the most optimistic scenarios are fraught with uncertainty. Nobody can predict when the economy will fully reopen, or what that even means in the post-COVID-19 business world. Will increased remote work become the “new normal”? Will business meetings, pitches, and conferences, continue to take place by videoconference or other remote means? What about investigations, depositions, mediations, and court proceedings? And how long will all of that last? We also do not know when the next pandemic will strike, or even if COVID-19 will rear its ugly head again in the near future.
Continue Reading Normalizing the Abnormal—Protecting Trade Secrets in a Post-COVID-19 World

On Thursday, April 23 at 12 p.m. Central, Seyfarth attorneys Erik Weibust, Marcus Mintz, and Jeremy Cohen are presenting Weathering the COVID-19 Storm With Your Trade Secrets and Customer Goodwill Intact, a webinar is Seyfarth’s Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic Webinar Series.

COVID-19 has changed the way most companies are currently doing business, from requiring remote work, to using new
Continue Reading Upcoming Webinar! Weathering the COVID-19 Storm With Your Trade Secrets and Customer Goodwill Intact

One of the first things a company should do when it suspects that its trade secrets have been compromised or that an employee has violated post-employment restrictive covenants is to conduct an investigation. Doing so will identify and ensure preservation of evidence supporting any claims, and is critical to the ability to demonstrate the need for emergency injunctive relief, especially at a time when courts are taking a rigorous approach to what constitutes a “litigation emergency.” Conducting a prompt investigation also helps to avoid any potential defenses of delay, bad faith, or a failure to investigate.
Continue Reading Conducting Trade Secret and Restrictive Covenant Investigations Remotely

We have previously written about the effects of COVID-19 on the way we currently work, as well as how businesses need to adapt to protect their trade secrets, customer goodwill, and other interests. In ordinary times, emergency injunctive relief is often the first resort for a business after discovering its trade secrets were stolen or  customer relationships are at risk. In the current environment, seeking emergency injunctive relief may not be possible or practicable until courts return to business as usual. Another ancillary effect of COVID-19 is the expected wave of bankruptcy filings. This poses the question: What do you do when a wrongdoer is insolvent or about to file for bankruptcy protection?
Continue Reading Bankruptcy is Not a “Get Out of Jail Free” Card: Enforcing Trade Secret Rights and Restrictive Covenants Against Financially Troubled Wrongdoers

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and the effective shut down of most of the US economy over the past several weeks (and for the foreseeable future), many companies are currently hemorrhaging cash, others may be temporarily illiquid, and even more are facing pressure from stakeholders to minimize costs (and maximize profits) in order to navigate and weather the current and impending financial storm. But this is no time to be penny wise and pound foolish, particularly when a company’s trade secrets are at risk and the misappropriation of those trade secrets could destroy the company.
Continue Reading Protecting Trade Secrets Without Breaking the Bank (Or Even Negatively Affecting Profits)

As we previously reported,  as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, courts across the country are adjourning most appearances, including trials, and hearing only “emergency matters,” often by teleconference or other remote methods. This presents a new quandary for trade secret and restrictive covenant lawyers, who regularly must seek emergency injunctive relief to protect their clients’ trade secrets and customer goodwill. But it does not follow that these lawyers should be careless about when to seek emergency relief; in fact, quite the opposite, they must be more diligent in that regard during the current pandemic.
Continue Reading Prior Ruling on What Constitutes a Litigation “Emergency” May Not Be a Unicorn After All

Imagine this scenario: You are the general counsel of a company in a particularly competitive industry. A key company employee who has access to some of the company’s most sensitive information has been working remotely for the last three weeks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and the employee exploits the opportunity to print or download confidential company information to a personal device, including customer lists and product specifications. The employee then gives notice and immediately begins employment with a direct competitor and begins soliciting your top customers. You consult with outside counsel who drafts a complaint and motion for preliminary injunctive relief and expedited discovery. But, as a result of COVID-19, you cannot obtain emergency relief, or the ability to do so is severely limited. What do you do?
Continue Reading Preparing for Trade Secret and Restrictive Covenant Litigation While the Court Near You is Closed

As we have previously reported, courts across the country are adjourning most appearances, including trials, and hearing only “emergency matters” during the current COVID-19 crisis. As a result, obtaining emergency injunctive relief may be more difficult than in normal circumstances. And attempting to obtain injunctive relief to enforce non-compete agreements against employees who are laid off, while permissible in a majority of states, may be particularly difficult now given that we are quickly entering (if not already in) a period of high unemployment. At the same time, some employers are loosening security measures in the name of convenience and efficiency for remote workers, potentially making trade secret misappropriation easier (we have provided tips for avoiding just that). But that does not mean employers are out of luck if an employee (or someone else) misappropriates its trade secrets or steals its customers. Companies that are genuinely and immediately harmed by trade secret misappropriation and breach of restrictive covenants should still seriously consider seeking injunctive relief, particularly if the activity is causing significant harm to their business. Damages are always an available, if not immediate, remedy, however, where injunctive relief may not be practical.
Continue Reading Emergency Injunction Not in the Cards? Damages May Be Your Winning Hand