The District of Massachusetts recently held that garden leave payments, whereby a former employee subject to a restrictive covenant is paid by the former employer for the duration of the restrictive period, do not constitute “wages” under the Massachusetts Wage Act.
In June 2022, a federal judge sitting in the Southern District of New York issued an order denying defendants Lionbridge Technologies, Inc. (“Lionbridge”) and its parent company HIG Middle Market, LLC (“HIG”) attorneys’ fees and costs related to their assertion that plaintiff Transperfect Global, LLC (“Transperfect”) brought a misappropriation of trade secrets claim under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) in bad faith. The 2019 lawsuit was filed roughly 15 months after completion of a bidding war for the sale of Transperfect in a Delaware court-supervised auction. One of the participants in the auction was HIG, which had acquired Lionbridge—a competitor of Transperfect—in February 2017. In its suit, Transperfect alleged that HIG engaged in “fake bidding” during the auction so that it could access trade secrets in the form of confidential pricing data and customer lists and improperly share them with Lionbridge to poach two of Transperfect’s biggest clients.
Continue Reading No Fees for Failure to Show “Bad Faith” in Prosecution of Trade Secrets Claim
A Superior Court in Massachusetts has allowed an aesthetician’s lawsuit to proceed against her former employer after it sought to enforce her allegedly void restrictive covenant.
After being terminated by defendant Vanity Lab, the plaintiff and aesthetician Tori Macaroco established her own business providing aesthetician services. Macaroco then received a cease-and-desist letter from a New York law firm, citing the contract she signed as a Vanity Lab employee that contained various restrictive covenants preventing her from “solicit[ing] any employees or patients/customers of Vanity Lab, attempt[ing] to persuade any customer, patient, or employee from leaving Vanity Lab’s services, or reveal[ing] any of Vanity Lab’s confidential information.” The letter also stated that Macaroco was prohibited from practicing as an aesthetician for one year following the end of her employment with Vanity Lab. The letter further advised Macaroco that Vanity Lab would take legal action to enforce its rights in the event of a breach of her contract.
Continue Reading Aesthetician’s Proactive Suit Puts a Wrinkle in Spa’s Attempts to Mar Her Reputation
After a four day bench trial on August 10, 2021, a Houston federal judge ruled that the conceptual designs an oil and gas manufacturing company disclosed to its erstwhile collaborator under an NDA were not eligible for trade secret protection because they were neither secret nor misappropriated due predominantly to disclosure in a prior public patent. The ruling underscores the necessity that trade secrets are—in fact—kept actually secret. Moreover, any prior patent of the party seeking to protect its trade secrets should be scrutinized for similarity with the technology or information allegedly comprising a trade secret.
Continue Reading Texas Oil & Gas Manufacturing Company’s DTSA/TUTSA Lawsuit Unraveled by Public Disclosure of Alleged Trade Secret in its Own Expired Patent
Peloton has come out on top of the litigation leaderboard yet again. As we previously blogged about here, Peloton is no stranger to trade secret litigation. Peloton recently won dismissal of a “mirror image” declaratory judgment counterclaim asserted against it by rival ICON Health (“ICON”) in a Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) matter pending in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.
Continue Reading Mirroring Peloton Won’t Result in Victory
As we have previously blogged about, in 2016 the Nevada Supreme Court refused to adopt the “blue pencil” doctrine and held that Nevada courts could not modify over-broad restrictive covenants. The following year, we alerted readers that the Nevada legislature amended Nevada Revised Statute 613, governing non-competition agreements. Among other things, the amendment granted courts the authority to “blue-pencil” non-competition agreements, overturning the Nevada Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Golden Road Motor Inn, Inc. v. Islam.
Continue Reading The Silver State Grips the Blue Pencil
The Illinois Trade Secrets Act (“ITSA”), which is consistent with both other states that have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, allows the recovery of attorneys’ fees for a party who has been forced to defend against a trade secret claim made in bad faith. See 765 ILCS 1065/5. This fee shifting provision provides an important mechanism to obtain relief for defendants who are forced to incur significant legal fees fighting baseless claims.
Continue Reading Failure to Tune in to Requirements to Meet Trade Secret Status Under Illinois Trade Secrets Act Results in Award of Attorneys’ Fees Against Radio Advertising Time Business
On Tuesday September 22 at 2-3 p.m. Eastern, Dawn Mertineit will participate in a roundtable on “Forensic Analysis of Electronic Devices for Litigation” for the ABA’s Litigation Section. This program will discuss the importance of forensic analysis of electronic devices, both pre-litigation and during litigation. Topics covered will include scenarios in which forensic analysis will be necessary or helpful, types…
Continue Reading Dawn Mertineit to Participate in “Forensic Analysis of Electronic Devices for Litigation” Roundtable
Real estate startup HouseCanary made headlines when it secured a $700 million judgment against Title Source, Inc., now known as Amrock, in a trade secrets misappropriation case. In short, HouseCanary claimed that Amrock misappropriated its trade secrets to develop an app to compete with the very product Amrock hired HouseCanary to create—a product HouseCanary never delivered.
Continue Reading HouseCanary Weighs a Bird in Hand… Collect on a $201,000,000 Judgment or Retry the Entire Case
The much-ballyhooed legal battle over trade secrets concerning self-driving automobile technology involving Uber took its latest (and perhaps final) turn last week, when engineer Anthony Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay over $700,000 in restitution.
Embroiled in the middle of a billion-dollar dispute between tech giants, Levandowski had previously pled guilty to the single count of trade secret theft and was already facing a $179 million judgment awarded to his former tech employer. Naturally, the length of prison sentence and the amount of restitution had been of particular interest to the business and legal communities to see what kind of message would be sent by US District Judge William Aslup. But interestingly, it was another (non-traditional) aspect of the sentence that perhaps sent the clearest and most impactful message to tech companies and their employees: the requirement that Levandowski, whom the judge described as a “good person” and a “brilliant man”, must give speeches to the public entitled “Why I Went to Federal Prison.”…
Continue Reading Self-Driving to Federal Prison: The Trade Secret Theft Saga of Anthony Levandowski Continues