Confidential information

After being slapped with a post-trial judgment last April totaling $2.2 million for misappropriation of confidential and proprietary information, two Wyoming bank executives were named in an unprecedented “Notice of Intent to Prohibit” filed in December by the Federal Reserve Board.  If these executives thought that more than two million dollars in civil liability was harsh, they were mistaken, as they now face a much harsher consequence:  a ban from the banking business altogether.

In its Notice, the Federal Reserve Board alleges that two executives, Frank Smith and Mark Kiolbasa, conspired to misappropriate the confidential and proprietary business information of their employer, Central Bank & Trust in Wyoming, and to give it to Central’s competitor, Farmers State Bank, in exchange for employment and an ownership interest in Farmers.  The Notice contends that the bankers engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices in breach of their fiduciary duties to Central Bank and seeks a hearing to determine whether they should be permanently barred from participating in the banking industry “in any manner.”

It is unclear whether this action stands on its own or is part of larger movement by the Federal Reserve to crack down on confidential and trade secret misappropriation.  Regardless, it is an issue we will closely monitor given its sizeable consequences.  The risk of a Federal Reserve action for a permanent ban on participation in the banking business adds greater protection to banks, but creates new risks at the same time.  The same bank who threatens to report one of its executives to Feds could also hire a new executive who brings the same baggage with them.  With the Federal Reserve Board’s recent Notice, we are continuing to notice a trend of the governments’ involvement in the confidential and trade secret misappropriation world.

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 financial services industry.

Seyfarth attorneys J. Scott Humphrey and Marcus Mintz will address the following topics:

  • Practical steps financial institutions can implement to protect trade secrets and client relationships
  • What to do if your 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
  • The impact of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting on trade secrets and client relationships

*CLE Credit for this webinar has been awarded in the following states: CA, IL, NJ and NY. CLE Credit is pending for GA, TX and VA. Please note that in order to receive full credit for this webinar, the registrant must be present for the entire session.

The 2018 Trading Secrets Year in Review is a compilation of our significant blog posts from throughout the 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 10 Developments and Headlines, 2018 Trade Secrets and Non-Competes 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 2018 Trading Secrets Year in Review also includes links to the recordings of webinars in the 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series. More information on our upcoming 2019 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 or printed copy of the 2018 Trading Secrets Year in Review below.

Continuing our annual tradition, we have compiled our top developments and headlines for  2018-2019 in trade secret, non-compete, and computer fraud law.

1. Government Agencies Increasing Scrutiny of Restrictive Covenants

In mid-2018, the Attorneys General of ten states investigated several franchisors for their alleged use of “no poach” provisions in their franchise agreements. In a July 9, 2018, letter, the Attorneys General for New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island requested information from several franchisors about their alleged use of such provisions. Less than twenty-four hours later, some franchisors (mostly different ones than those who received the information demands) entered into agreements with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office to remove such clauses from their franchise agreements. The recent focus by state law enforcement on franchisors is a new twist, given that restrictive covenant agreements in the franchise industry are typically given more leeway than in the employment context. Continue Reading Top 10 Developments and Headlines in Trade Secret, Non-Compete, and Computer Fraud Law in 2018/2019

A Pennsylvania federal court recently denied Defendant Synchrony Group, LLC’s motion to dismiss a trade secret lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Jazz”) holding that Plaintiff sufficiently stated a trade secret claim. Jazz Pharms., Inc. v. Synchrony Grp., LLC, No. 18-602, 2018 WL 6305602 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 3, 2018). Continue Reading Pennsylvania Federal Court Finds That Plaintiff’s Trade Secret Misappropriation Allegations Hold Up

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.

Introduction

The purpose of this short paper is to ‘join the dots’ between a director’s fiduciary duties and especially a person holding dual or multiple directorships and trade secrets. Continue Reading Fiduciary Duties with Respect to Trade Secrets for Dual or Multiple Directors

Throughout 2018, Seyfarth Shaw’s dedicated Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes Practice Group hosted a series of CLE webinars that addressed significant issues facing clients today in this important and ever-changing area of law. The series consisted of seven webinars:

  1. 2017 National Year in Review: What You Need to Know About the Recent Cases/Developments in Trade Secrets, Non-Compete and Computer Fraud Law
  2. Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships in the Financial Services Industry
  3. The Anatomy of a Trade Secret Audit
  4. Protecting Trade Secrets from Cyber and Other Threats
  5. 2018 Massachusetts Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Reform
  6. Protecting Trade Secrets Abroad and Enforcing Rights Abroad and in the U.S.
  7. Criminal Trade Secret Theft: What You Need to Know

As a conclusion to this well-received 2018 webinar series, we compiled a list of key takeaway points for each program, which are listed below. For those clients who missed any of the programs in this year’s series, recordings of the webinars are available on the blog, or you may click on the title of each available webinar below for the online recording. Seyfarth Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Compete attorneys are happy to discuss presenting similar presentations to your company for CLE credit. Seyfarth will continue its trade secrets webinar programming in 2019, and we will release the 2019 trade secrets webinar series topics in the coming weeks. Continue Reading 2018 Trade Secrets and Non-Competes Webinar Series Year in Review

  1. Have trade secret protections. Built into the definition of a trade secret is the requirement to have reasonable secrecy measures. Companies that do not use non-disclosure agreements with their employees can be at a tremendous disadvantage if they decide to litigate against former employees for trade secret misappropriation. Well thought out policies, procedures, and agreements are a must to have defensible trade secret protections.
  2. Be careful who you hire and what baggage they may come with. Sometimes what appears too good to be true is in fact the case. Employers should take particular care when hiring high-level employees or sales employees from direct competitors. They should carefully review any restrictive covenants that the candidate has before extending an offer and ensure that the prospective employee does not bring data from their previous employer.
  3. Don’t be a company that has a “Do what I say not what I do approach.” Many company sabotage their own trade secret protections by requiring lower level and mid-level employees to follow policies, procedures, and agreements but then upper management, including executives, fail to abide by the same policies, procedures, and agreements—this can lead to a confused and disgruntled workforce. A culture of confidentiality, which is a staple of companies that adequately protect trade secrets, starts at the top.
  4. Protect your company trade secrets along the supply chain. In today’s global and mobile economy, companies often hire contractors, consultants, or third parties to assist with products or services. Those same third parties are often provided access to the company’s trade secrets as part of their role in the supply chain. Companies need to ensure that they have had adequate agreements and cybersecurity protections in place with those third parties to ensure that trade secrets are not compromised.
  5. Have coherent computer policies and enforce those policies. Companies conduct business via email and through the transfer and sharing of electronic files. Those files may contain trade secrets and can be easily transferred to a variety of storage devices and accounts, including computers, electronic devices, and the cloud. Companies should provide clear instructions to employees concerning acceptable use, storage, and transfer of company files and should enforce those policies. Some companies use software solutions to monitor compliance and prevent data extraction. Many trade secret cases involve the illicit transfer of company files to personal devices or accounts.

While these tips provide a good overview, it is highly recommended that you consult a Seyfarth attorney familiar with counseling or litigating trade secret matters to develop a robust plan to protect your company’s trade secrets and intellectual property.

Please join us for a one-hour CLE webinar on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central / 10:00 a.m. Pacific.

Trade secret misappropriation is increasingly gaining the attention of law enforcement authorities. This reality creates different dynamics and risks depending on whether a company is being accused of wrongdoing or is the victim of such conduct. On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. Central, Seyfarth Shaw attorneys Andrew Boutros and John Schleppenbach will present the “Criminal Trade Secret Theft Update” webinar, the seventh installment in Seyfarth’s 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series.

The webinar will focus on criminal liability for trade secret theft, including:

  • Key statutes: Economic Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Defend Trade Secrets Act
  • Key elements for criminal prosecution
  • Factors that prosecutors consider when deciding whether and what to prosecute
  • How to work with federal prosecutors and their law enforcement partners
  • Civil RICO under the Defend Trade Secrets Act
  • Best practices for avoiding misappropriation and what to do when you suspect misappropriation has occurred

In Seyfarth’s sixth installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Daniel Hart, Marjorie Culver, Alex Meier, and Paul Yovanic Jr. focused on how to identify the greatest threats to trade secrets, tips and best practices for protecting trade secrets abroad, and enforcement mechanisms and remedies.

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

  • You don’t want to be in a position where you’re relying exclusively on trade secrets law to protect proprietary information. When possible, execute a confidentiality agreement. This will not only protect a wider range of information, but also often helps with securing pre-discovery injunctive relief.
  • In order to adequately protect trade secrets abroad, companies should inform employees of the important nature of secret information, take steps to secure secret information and limit access only to necessary employees, and avoid liability without culpability by revising employment agreements and informing new hires of the prohibited conduct.
  • Restrictive covenants abroad are easier to enforce when agreements are narrowly tailored for duration, geographic scope, and nature and when penalties are reasonable.
  • For international misappropriation, consider whether you want to pursue relief in the foreign jurisdiction or in the United States. The Defend Trade Secrets Act and, in some instances, Section 337 actions before the International Trade Commission rules offer powerful alternatives to proceedings in other jurisdictions.