Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

Exchange Act Rule 21F-17, adopted in 2011 under the auspices of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, prohibits any person from taking any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the SEC, including by “enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement . . . .”  The SEC has prioritized enforcing this rule expansively, by requiring employers to provide SEC-specific carveouts to policies and agreements governing confidentiality.  According to an Order issued last week against The Brink’s Company ( “Brink’s” or “Brinks”), the SEC seems to suggest that employers must provide a specific carveout in restrictive covenant agreements permitting employees and former employees to report information to the SEC in addition to the statutory disclosure provided for in the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).

Continue Reading DTSA Whistleblower Language May Be Required, but Is It Sufficient? Not According to the SEC.

On March 24, 2022, Washington State signed into law the Silenced No More Act (the “Act”), greatly restricting the scope of nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions employers may enter into with employees who either work or reside in Washington State. Effective June 9, 2022, the Act prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that an employment agreement contain a provision:

not to disclose or discuss conduct, or the existence of a settlement involving conduct, that the employee reasonably believed under Washington state, federal or common law to be illegal discrimination, illegal harassment, illegal retaliation, a wage and hour violation, or sexual assault, or that is recognized as against a clear mandate of public policy….

Continue Reading Washington State’s Silenced No More Act, Which Largely Prohibits Nondisclosure and Nondisparagement Provisions in Employment Agreements, to Go Into Effect June 9, 2022

A California Superior Court Judge in Orange County granted an attorneys’ fees award in the amount of $5.8 million to defendant Landmark Event Staffing Services, Inc. (“Landmark”) in Contemporary Services Corporation v. Landmark Event Staffing Services, Inc., Case No. 30-2009-00123939. This ruling reinforces the importance of carefully calibrating litigation strategy in trade secrets misappropriation cases to focus on vindicating legally protectable interests. Trade secrets litigation should not be used merely as an aggressive tactic to stifle a competitor.

Continue Reading Superior Court of California Attorneys’ Fees Award Punishes Plaintiff’s Bad-Faith Litigation for Alleged Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

In a pending trial in federal court in Boston in the case U.S. v. Haoyang Yu, et al., prosecutors accuse a design engineer and naturalized citizen from China of stealing microchips (monolithic microwave integrated circuits or “MMICs” used in radio, cellular and satellite communications) from his former employer Analog Devices, Inc. As reported in Law360, during opening statements last week, a federal prosecutor told the jury, “It’s a story of fraud. It’s a story of possession of stolen trade secrets. It’s a story of illegal exports and immigration fraud.” In support of its case, the government explained that
Continue Reading “Pikachu, Where Are You?” – Concealment Evidence Will Play Prominent Role in Trade Secrets Theft Trial Against Design Engineer Alleged to Have Disguised Stolen Files as Pokémon Pics

On May 2, 2022, a bill “limiting certain provisions in restrictive covenants” was introduced in the New Jersey State Assembly.  In recent years, similar bills have been proposed in various state legislatures.  Some such bills, after much lobbying, haggling and revisions, have even been enacted into law, including, for example, in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington.

Continue Reading Proposed New Jersey Non-Compete Law Aims to Provide a Little Bit of Everything

A significant opinion concerning computer security was one of those the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) issued during its end-of-term flurry this year.  Employers and others who permit computer access to sensitive information for business or other defined purposes may want to take note. Spoiler alert:  the opinion undercuts use of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. §1030 et seq., to obtain federal jurisdiction in employer-employee disputes. (As a practical matter, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 had already filled the gap for many circumstances).

As we reported here last December shortly after
Continue Reading SCOTUS Favors Narrower Reading of CFAA “So” It Does Not Cover Misuse of Authorized Access

Our colleagues David S. Poppick and Carol J. Faherty have co-authored the 2021 update to “Trade Secret Laws: Connecticut,” a Q&A guide to state law on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers in Connecticut, published by Thomson Reuters Practical Law.

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

This Q&A addresses the state-specific definition of trade secrets and the legal requirements relating to protecting them. Federal, local, or municipal law may impose additional or different requirements. Answers to questions can be compared across several jurisdictions. …

In particular, this Q&A addresses:

  • Overview of


Continue Reading Connecticut Trade Secret Laws: 2021 Update

On March 16, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed defendant Shan Shi’s conviction for conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. Given recent efforts at the state and now federal level to ban non-competes, employers may be more likely to consider partnering with law enforcement to remedy trade secret theft.

The Court’s opinion begins with the statement, “We can’t always get what we want, but, sometimes, we get what we need.” Unfortunately, the Court’s opinion continues, what Shi’s company needed were seven documents containing a competitor’s trade secret information for manufacturing drill riser buoyancy modules
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Affirms Federal Jury’s Conviction of Texas Drilling Executive for Trade Secret Theft