Safeguarding trade secrets is typically Rule No. 1 for many companies—particularly technology companies. Therefore, when a company needs to share its highly-guarded trade secrets with a subcontractor in order to complete a project together, most companies understandably require the subcontractor to enter into a confidentiality agreement that includes a non-disclosure provision. Many of those confidentiality agreements also include a liquidated damages provision that is triggered by the subcontractor’s breach.Continue Reading 11th Circuit Upholds Trial Court’s Rejection of Liquidated Damages in Trade Secret Case
It’s a fact pattern that repeatedly arises in trade secret cases: a company hires someone who has a confidentiality agreement with their former employer. Just before (or shortly after) being hired, the individual emails confidential information from their former employer to individuals at their new job. The former employer files suit against the individual, but also asserts a claim for tortious interference with contractual relations against the new employer.
Continue Reading Merely Receiving Confidential Information Isn’t Enough: Georgia Court Dismisses Tortious Interference with Contract Claim in Trade Secret Case
It is well established that the Georgia Trade Secret Act (“GTSA”) includes a preemption clause holding that the Act “supersede[s] conflicting tort, restitutionary, and other laws of this state providing civil remedies for misappropriation of a trade secret.” O.C.G.A. § 10-1-767(a). The GTSA does not, however, preempt (1) “[c]ontractual duties or remedies, whether or not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret”; (2) “[o]ther civil remedies that are not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret”; or (3) “[t]he definition of a trade secret contained in [another Georgia statute].” O.C.G.A. § 10-1-767(b). In other words, the GTSA preempts any non-contractual claims that allege the misappropriation of a trade secret. See Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. Of Georgia v. One Sixty Over Ninety, LLC, 830 S.E.2d 503, 510 n.13 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019) (“[T]he Trade Secrets Act superseded the common law tort of misappropriation [of trade secrets].”)
Continue Reading Recent Federal Court Ruling Refuses to Expand the Scope of Georgia Trade Secret Act’s Preemption Clause
This blog post is the author’s opinion and is for educational and informational purposes only. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. Please feel free to reach out to a Seyfarth Trade Secrets attorney if you’d like to discuss your particular situation.
Before Georgia enacted a constitutional amendment in 2011 to allow the enforcement of reasonable restrictive covenants, Georgia was a popular venue for companies and individuals to avoid non-competes and non-solicits. A recent personal jurisdiction decision in which the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed that a foreign corporation’s registration to do business in Georgia amounts to an implicit consent to general personal jurisdiction raises the question of whether Georgia will once again become a popular forum to try to void restrictive covenant agreements—at least for agreements executed before May 11, 2011.
To understand why, we’ll begin with a brief overview of Georgia’s history as a hostile venue to restrictive covenants and trends in personal jurisdiction decisions before returning to Cooper Tire’s facts and potential impact on restrictive covenants.
Continue Reading Does Georgia Decision on Personal Jurisdiction Present an Invitation to Forum Shop For Non-Compete Disputes?
A decade ago, the Georgia legislature enacted a new restrictive covenant statute, O.C.G.A. § 13-8-51 et al. (the “Georgia RCA”). Among other things, the Georgia RCA permitted Georgia courts to blue-pencil or “modify a covenant that is otherwise void and unenforceable so long as the modification does not render the covenant more restrictive with regard to the employee than as originally drafted by the parties.” O.C.G.A. § 13-8-53(d).
Continue Reading Georgia Business Court Utilizes Georgia’s Restrictive Covenants Act to Modify the Applicable Time Period of a Customer Non-Solicit Provision
Earlier this week, the United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, against several unidentified UPS pilots, who are referred to in the complaint as “John Does 1-5.” The lawsuit alleges that “[i]n August 2017, certain UPS employees developed strategic plans regarding the Company’s aircraft. These plans were developed for, among other things, reporting to senior executives of the Company in late August 2017 so that they could make certain strategic business and financial decisions. Portions of these plans were included in a PowerPoint presentation created by this limited group of UPS employees (the “PowerPoint”). In preparation for the meeting, a very limited number of UPS employees had access to the PowerPoint for the purpose of its drafting and editing.” (Complaint, ¶ 7.) The lawsuit goes on to allege that the PowerPoint contained highly confidential and trade secret information. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.)
Continue Reading Big Brown v. PowerPoint Pilferers in Trade Secret Spat
In Spring 2011, the Georgia legislature passed a new restrictive covenant statute, which, for the first time, allowed Georgia courts in reviewing non-competition agreements between employer and employee to blue-pencil or “modify a covenant that is otherwise void and unenforceable so long as the modification does not render the covenant more restrictive with regard to the employee than as originally…
Continue Reading In Georgia, the Blue-Pencil Only Strikes Overly Broad Non-Competes and Does Not Rewrite Them
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) gives rise to an actionable claim if someone “knowingly access[es] a computer without authorization or exceed[s] authorized access.” 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1). The term “exceeds authorized access” is defined as “to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is…
Continue Reading What Underlying Facts are Required to Assert a Valid CFAA Claim Based on “Exceeds Authorized Access” in Georgia?
While the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act is garnering a great deal of attention, it’s worthwhile to remember that state law remains critically important in drafting restrictive covenants. This week, May 11, 2016, marks the fifth anniversary of Georgia’s revised trade secrets act, which fundamentally recast how courts view and enforce restrictive covenants.
Prior to enactment of the new law,…
Continue Reading Georgia’s Restrictive Covenants Act Turns Five Years Old: Assessing the Impact of Georgia’s Law Five Years On
A recent verdict in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia is an excellent reminder of the importance of conducting thorough discovery in unfair competition cases. Earlier this year, after a four day trial, a Georgia jury awarded telecom company Cost Management Group (“CMG”) $282,001 in damages, $300,000 in attorneys’ fees, and $200,000 in punitive damages, finding that CMG’s former…