In Seyfarth’s third installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Kate Perrelli, Dawn Mertineit, Justin Beyer, and Andrew Stark focused on trade secret audits, with an emphasis on the importance of a proactive, systematic approach to assessing and protecting trade secret portfolios.

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

  • Recent government and news media attention on trade secret theft serves as a firm reminder of the risk of trade secrets being stolen and the importance of protecting them. Trade secret theft costs American companies hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and even the largest and most sophisticated companies are victims.
  • It is critically important to identify and understand your company’s trade secrets to ensure that you have adequate protections from theft in place.
  • Have a well-communicated plan for the audit to ensure buy-in from appropriate stakeholders and set expectations.
  • An equally important, but sometimes overlooked, component of the trade secret audit is reviewing and analyzing a company’s internal technology. Any plan to prevent misappropriation should include analyzing company technology, upgrading it when feasible, or customizing it to prevent someone from stealing information.

 

Please join us for a one-hour CLE webinar on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central / 10:00 a.m. Pacific.

Trade secrets are critical intellectual property for most businesses. The threat to trade secrets, whether through cybersecurity or other issues, continues to increase year after year, especially with the increased use of cloud technology, social media, and the like. The alarming frequency of targeted data theft attacks leave a company’s trade secrets and confidential information vulnerable to outside threats.

In Seyfarth’s fourth installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Robert Milligan and Scott Atkinson, along with Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade CEO Pamela Passman, will address the issue of cyber threats and cover the following topics:

  • Identifying the greatest threats to trade secrets and how companies fall short on protecting against these threats
  • Implementing an effective trade secret protection program
  • Enacting effective risk reduction processes across an organization
  • Meeting the “reasonable steps” requirement, including real-world examples

The 2018 edition of The Legal 500 United States recommends Seyfarth Shaw’s Trade Secrets group as one of the best in the country. Nationally, for the third consecutive year, our Trade Secrets practice earned Top Tier.

Based on feedback from corporate counsel, Seyfarth partner Michael Wexler was ranked in the editorial’s “Leading Lawyers,” and Robert Milligan, Daniel Hart, Erik Weibust, and J. Scott Humphrey were also recommended in the editorial.

The Legal 500 United States is an independent guide providing comprehensive coverage on legal services and is widely referenced for its definitive judgment of law firm capabilities. The Legal 500 United States recognizes and rewards the best in-house and private practice teams and individuals over the past 12 months. The awards are given to the elite legal practitioners, based on comprehensive research into the U.S. legal market.

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.

An audit is the examination of a specific aspect of an organization, ideally by someone independent of that organization.

The purpose of an audit is to provide independent assurance that an organization’s management, governance, and processes are operating effectively and that any associated assets are being properly and professionally managed. Continue Reading Trade Secrets Audit

Seyfarth attorneys Robert Milligan, Joshua Salinas, Amy Abeloff, and Olivia Wada contributed to this year’s ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law, Trade Secrets and Interferences with Contracts Committee Annual Trade Secret Law Report.

The Annual Report, found here, covers the significant trade secrets cases from around the country that were decided in 2017. The Report is a good resource for staying current in trade secrets developments and trends.

Please join us for a one-hour CLE webinar on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central / 10:00 a.m. Pacific.

The risk of trade secret theft to businesses has increased in recent years, with greater employee mobility between companies, the alarming frequency of targeted data theft attacks, and the explosion of social media and cloud computing. Companies cannot simply react to these real business risks to their data after the data is compromised. By then, it’s too late.

To address these recurrent issues, Seyfarth Shaw helps clients protect their important assets and effectively manage risk by conducting trade secret audits. Our experience has shown that companies gain tremendous value by taking a proactive, systematic approach to assessing and protecting their trade secret portfolios through a Trade Secret Audit. In Seyfarth’s third installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Kate Perrelli, Dawn Mertineit, Justin Beyer, and Andrew Stark will cover the following topics:

  • Identifying trade secrets and secrecy protections
  • Effective secrecy protections, including employment and non-compete agreements
  • Effective hiring and termination protocols, including effective exit interviews and termination protocols
  • Employing a comprehensive approach and trade secret protection plan
  • Managing and working to protect computer-stored data, including responding to emergency issues related to computer fraud and security breaches

Seyfarth Partner and Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Compete Practice Group Co-Chair Robert Milligan is on the panel for the “Discovery in Trade Secret Litigation” session on May 4 at The Sedona Conference Working Group on Electronic Document Retention & Production 2018 Midyear Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The “Discovery in Trade Secret Litigation” sessions will include an introduction to The Sedona Conference’s new Working Group 12, and issues raised by the rising tide of trade secret litigation. These types of cases often involve discovery of personal devices and third-party apps, leading to a perfect storm of privilege, privacy, and proportionality considerations while handling proprietary and confidential information. The panel will also address trade secret identification issues and protective orders.

The Midyear Meeting is critical to move existing Working Group work product forward, and the topics have been chosen to help identify where The Sedona Conference can provide further guidance.

Among the Featured Sessions Are:

  • New Technology and eDiscovery Competence: Explore the impact of technology on discovery, including AI, Blockchain, IoT, and Apps. Do you know how to get information from these sources or audit the data in them?
  • GDPR for the U.S. eDiscovery lawyer: How to safely navigate cross-border EU/U.S. data transfers––making the best of tough decisions and avoiding problems on both sides.
  • Guidance from in-house lawyers to law firms and other legal service providers: Tips for outside counsel and vendors to add more value to eDiscovery engagements.

For more information, to see the full agenda, or to register, click here: https://thesedonaconference.org/node/108211

Late last week, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for mandamus in which the petitioner sought an order compelling a plaintiff to identify the specific trade secrets it contends were misappropriated, bucking what petitioner claimed is a “growing consensus” among the states.

In August 2015, B.J. Reynolds resigned from Sanchez Oil & Gas Corp. and began working as the vice president of operations for Terra Energy Partners LLC. In early March 2016, Terra hired two other Sanchez employees, Wes Hobbs and Mark Mewshaw. Later that month, Sanchez brought suit against Terra for misappropriation of trade secrets, alleging that after leaving the company, Hobbs and Mewshaw stole various electronic data involving processes to drill oil wells and to secure cost savings from vendors.

During the course of discovery, Sanchez produced approximately 170,000 pages of documents that allegedly contained the misappropriated trade secrets. According to Terra’s petition for writ of mandamus, however, Sanchez never specifically identified what trade secrets it accused Terra of stealing. As a result, Terra filed a motion to compel Sanchez to describe the “steps or elements of any trade secret processes that it claims were misappropriated,” arguing that Sanchez’s “data dump” ran afoul of its disclosure obligations under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Terra also argued that it would cost its expert witnesses more than $1 million in fees to review the nearly 200,000 pages of documents Sanchez produced, and even that would not identify the specific trade secrets Sanchez claims had been misappropriated.

The trial court denied Terra’s motion to compel, and Terra filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the First Court of Appeals in Houston. Although the appellate court stayed the lower court’s proceedings, it also ultimately rejected Terra’s request.

In its petition for writ of mandamus filed with the Texas Supreme Court, Terra argued that there is a “growing consensus” among the 46 states which have adopted laws similar to the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act that a plaintiff must disclose the allegedly misappropriated trade secrets “with reasonable particularity at an early stage in the litigation.” Terra therefore urged the Texas Supreme Court to follow suit.

Sanchez, in response, argued that mandamus relief should be denied because Terra was improperly seeking to delay the underlying trial and to impose additional, unwarranted discovery obligations on Sanchez.

The Texas Supreme Court denied Terra’s petition without explanation.

In re Terra Energy Partners LLC et al., case number 18-0120, in the Supreme Court of Texas.

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., and Oliver Treidler, Managing Director of TP&C GmbH.

Introduction:

Any business professor will tell you that the value of companies has been shifting markedly from tangible assets, “bricks and mortar,” to intangible assets like intellectual property (IP) in recent years. Continue Reading The Valuation of Trade Secrets

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 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, and the impact of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting on trade secrets and client relationships.

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

  • Remember that you can seek court injunctive relief (Temporary Restraining Order and, possibly, Preliminary Injunction) before proceeding in FINRA
  • The definition of a trade secret varies, but you must take adequate steps to protect them as a company, and the information cannot be publicly available or easily discovered, to merit enforcement under the law.
  • Employers can take steps at all stages to protect their confidential information—don’t forget to implement on-boarding and off-boarding procedures, as well as policies and procedures that will be in effect during an employee’s tenure, to protect your information before a problem arises.