According to a March 26, 2020, News Release issued by the Department of Labor (“DOL”), initial unemployment claims in the United States soared to a seasonally adjusted 3.3 million the week ending March 21, 2020, the greatest single week increase in recorded history, primarily because of layoffs resulting from COVID-19. Indeed, the DOL reports that:

During the week ending March 21, the increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts. States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services. Additional industries heavily cited for the increases included the health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries.

Some researchers estimate that as many 1 in 5 US employees are subject to non-compete agreements. This means that, in all likelihood, hundreds of thousands of employees who are subject to non-compete agreements were terminated in the last week or so alone.
Continue Reading Enforcement of Non-Compete Agreements During Times of High Unemployment

When the COVID-19 crisis hit the United States (indeed, before it was even considered a “crisis” here), we provided tips for protecting a company’s trade secrets in the event employees were permitted to work from home. In the ensuing three weeks, not only have employees been permitted to work from home, but many companies have required it. Indeed, an ever-growing list of states, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have issued stay-at-home orders and shut down all non-essential businesses for the time being. As a result, there are now millions of employees working remotely who are accustomed to working in an office setting. Indeed, according to a March 12, 2020, flash survey of more than 550 employers conducted by Seyfarth, nearly 85% of responding companies were actively encouraging employees to work from home in some or all parts of the country, and more than 65% were taking steps to provide capability for employees to be able to work from home who do not normally do so. Those numbers are likely even higher now.
Continue Reading Protecting Trade Secrets During a Pandemic: Think Twice Before Loosening Security Measures in the Name of Convenience and Efficiency

In the world of trade secret and restrictive covenant litigation, time is often of the essence. Clients need to take immediate steps to prevent the harm that flows from the misappropriation of confidential information. Lawyers need to move with alacrity, and case commencements are typically accompanied by “emergency” motions for injunctive relief and expedited discovery.

Now, as a result of
Continue Reading What Constitutes a Litigation “Emergency” During a Worldwide Health Crisis?

Fear of the coronavirus is causing many employers to permit—or in some cases mandate—employees to work remotely. While this measure is designed to minimize the risk of virus transmission, it presents an altogether different risk when it comes to protecting trade secrets, as employees have ripe opportunities to remove trade secrets and other sensitive information from company systems and databases. While remote access is ostensibly provided so that employees can perform their job functions from home, and may even be a necessity in that regard, some employees may take the opportunity to exploit the situation to more nefarious ends, and others may just be careless, which can lead to equally bad outcomes. In addition, employees’ external home networks may not have robust security on par with in-office network security.
Continue Reading Love in the Time of Coronavirus: Protecting Trade Secrets During a Pandemic

On February 25, 2020, Plaintiff Mustard Girl LLC (“Mustard Girl”), an award-winning mustard manufacturer, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County for damages against its former co-packing partner, Olds Products Co. of Illinois, LLC (“Olds”), for misappropriation of trade secrets and other derivative claims. According to Mustard Girl, Olds engaged in a multi-year scheme to steal Mustard Girl’s recipes and then use those recipes to sell its own mustard products at lower cost to Mustard Girl’s largest accounts.

This mustard dispute presents a common trade secrets misappropriation scenario—the alleged misappropriator had lawful access to the trade secrets but then misused its access for an improper purpose. An additional wrinkle in this case is that Mustard Girl provided the mustard recipes to Olds under a confidentiality agreement, but admittedly lacks a counter-signed copy. Proving that reasonable measures were taken to keep trade secrets protected is necessary to prevail on a claim for misappropriation. If Mustard Girl is unable to prove that the recipes were provided to Olds under a confidentiality agreement, it may face a significant hurdle in proving that its recipes are, in fact, trade secrets.
Continue Reading Pardon Me, Co-Packaging Partner Accused of Stealing Dijon Mustard Recipes

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) will host its annual Trade Secret Law Summit at The Orrick Building in San Francisco’s Financial District on March 16-17, 2020.

Seyfarth partner Scott Humphrey will be speaking on a panel entitled “Use of Litigation Funding in Trade Secret Cases” with representatives of two major litigation funders. Other Seyfarth attendees will include Erik
Continue Reading Please Join Seyfarth at the AIPLA Trade Secret Law Summit – March 16-17, 2020

In Seyfarth’s second installment in its 2019 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys J. Scott Humphrey and Marcus Mintz focused on trade secret and client relationship considerations in the banking and financial services industry.

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

  • When it comes to protecting your secrets, “an ounce of prevention is worth


Continue Reading Webinar Recap! Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships in the Financial Services Industry

On February 21, 2019, the New Hampshire Senate, in a bipartisan voice vote and without debate, passed Senate Bill 197, which would prohibit employers from requiring low-wage workers to enter into non-compete agreements, and makes such agreements void and unenforceable.

The Bill applies to “Low-wage employees,” which is defined to include (i) employees who make less than or equal to twice the federal minimum wage, i.e., $14.50 per hour based on the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour; and (ii) “tipped employees” under New Hampshire Revised Statute § 279:21, who make less than or equal to twice the tipped minimum wage (statutorily set at 45 percent of the federal minimum wage), i.e., $6.54 per hour. 
Continue Reading New Hampshire Senate Seeks to Ban Non-Competes for Low-Wage Workers

Please join us for a one-hour CLE webinar on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central / 10:00 a.m. Pacific.

On March 20, 2019, at 12:00 p.m. Central Time, in Seyfarth’s second installment of its 2019 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys will focus on trade secret and client relationship considerations in the banking and
Continue Reading Upcoming Webinar! Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships in the Financial Services Industry

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
Continue Reading Webinar Recap! Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships in the Financial Services Industry