From court closures and the way judges conduct appearances and trials to the expected wave of lawsuits across a multitude of areas and industries, the COVID-19 outbreak is having a notable impact in the litigation space—and is expected to for quite some time.

To help navigate the litigation landscape, we are kicking off a webinar

Tens of millions of employees have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the reopening process has begun in most states, many of those employees are being rehired and reactivated. For the month of May 2020, the unemployment rate actually started to decline after the massive increase over the prior few months, as businesses began the return to normal and employers who obtained relief from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) restored their workforces to pre-pandemic levels in order to secure loan forgiveness.

One thing that employers may not be considering when they rehire laid off or furloughed employees is what impact this has on prior restrictive covenant agreements with those employees. We previously discussed whether non-competes are enforceable against employees who are laid off. But what about employees who are laid off and then rehired, or furloughed and then reactivated? Are restrictive covenant agreements signed by employees prior to the layoffs or furloughs still enforceable if they ultimately leave and join a competitor down the road? The answer depends on whether the employee was technically, even if temporarily, laid off rather than furloughed, and what state’s law applies.
Continue Reading No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Return to Work May Mean Reduced Protections for Trade Secrets and Customer Goodwill

Webinar
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Central
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Mountain
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Pacific

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Join Seyfarth attorneys Dean Fanelli, Dawn Mertineit, and Kate Perrelli, along with in-house counsel Julie McCarthy, General Counsel and Vice-President of Legal Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research

On June 10, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Erik Weibust and Michael Kippins will be presenting a free webinar for the Boston Bar Association entitled “Protecting Trade Secrets in the Face of Remote Workforces, New Technology, and Laid Off Employees.”.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and in response to what many are calling

Seyfarth Partners Jeremy Cohen, Marcus Mintz, and Erik Weibust have published an article entitled “Navigating and Weathering the COVID-19 Storm with Your Trade Secrets Intact” in Corporate Compliance Insights. The article addresses several of the topics they have been blogging about over the past two months, including what constitutes “reasonable measures” to

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

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 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