Posts in Trade Secrets and Confidential Information.
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law: Restrictive covenants are evolving at a record pace right now at both the federal and state levels. Employers are struggling to keep up, and that’s especially true in the health care industry.

In this episode of Spilling Secrets, Epstein Becker Green attorneys Katherine G. RigbyErik W. WeibustGlenn P. Prives, and Denise Merna Dadika discuss restrictive covenants in relation to physician groups and other health care organizations employing direct care providers.

Explore Epstein Becker Green's 50-State Noncompete Survey, now featuring a 50-state health care supplement.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2024 update to “Trade Secrets Litigation,” co-authored by Peter A. Steinmeyer.

The Note discusses trade secrets litigation for employers whose employees or former employees have misappropriated trade secrets. This Note describes pre-litigation investigations, sending cease and desist letters, and contacting law enforcement. It also addresses filing a legal action, including forum selection and choice of law issues, deciding whether to include the employee’s new employer and third parties, common causes of action ...

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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2024 update to “Preparing for Non-Compete Litigation,” co-authored by Peter A. Steinmeyer.

The Note describes the steps an employer can take to prepare to successfully litigate a non-compete action, the primary options for enforcing a non-compete agreement, and the strategic decisions involved with each option. It discusses gathering evidence, assessing the enforceability of a non-compete, considerations before initiating legal action, cease and desist letters, seeking declaratory judgments, damages, and ...

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

California has some of the strongest regulations on restrictive covenants. How can employers in the state protect trade secrets and remain in compliance?

Epstein Becker Green attorneys Katherine G. RigbyDavid Jacobs, and Phillip K. Antablin detail some best practices for California employers.

* * *

Tune in to Spilling Secrets, a podcast series on the future of trade secrets and non-compete law.

Each episode features an all-star panel of attorneys talking about ...

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For many of us, summer holidays are over, the kids are back in school, and it is a good time to take stock of languishing items on our to-do lists.  For employers that have restrictive covenant agreements with employees in Georgia, one of those to-do items should be to review the employee non-solicitation provisions in their employment agreements.

Earlier this summer, in North American Senior Benefits v. Wimmer, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a decision that likely will make it substantially more challenging for employers to enforce employee non-solicitation provisions.  That ...

Blogs
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As we have previously discussed, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel is seeking to invalidate noncompete agreements on the untested legal theory that they violate the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB recently fired its latest salvo in those efforts to outlaw noncompetes.

 On September 1, 2023, the Regional Director of Region 9 of the NLRB, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, issued a Consolidated Complaint against Harper Holdings, LLC d/b/a Juvly Aesthetics (the “Company”), alleging that the Company maintains unlawful noncompete provisions in ...

Blogs
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This year, California was one of many states to enact legislation restricting noncompetes.  California has long had the strictest noncompete law, and employee noncompetes are already void under California Business and Professions Code § 16600 (“Section 16600”).  On September 1, 2023, California passed new legislation (“SB 699”) that further broadens Section 16600 and provides employees with new legal remedies.

The Current Law

Unless one of the narrow statutory exceptions applies, Section 16600 provides that any contract restraining a person from ...

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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2023 update to “Trade Secret Laws: Illinois,” a Q&A guide on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers in Illinois, co-authored by Peter A. Steinmeyer and David J. Clark, Members of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice.

Following is an excerpt:

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.

Download the full Practice ...

Blogs
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The New York Knicks made headlines last week when they sued the Toronto Raptors for theft of confidential and proprietary information, including scouting reports, play frequency reports, and other confidential information compiled by the Knicks coaching staff. According to the Complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam illegally procured and disclosed confidential information to employees of the Raptors, including Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković and player development coach Noah Lewis (Azotam, Rajaković ...

Blogs
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We wrote previously about how nobody seemed to be talking seriously about the noncompete bill that was passed by both the New York General Assembly and Senate last month. If signed by Governor Hochul, the bill would ban noncompetes without a carveout even in the sale of a business context, which both California and the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule include.

Blogs
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As we wrote almost exactly a year ago – months before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its proposed noncompete rule – the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA made it clear that the FTC does not have the authority to use its rulemaking powers to ban (or otherwise regulate) noncompetition agreements because it does not have “clear congressional authorization” to do so. The Supreme Court’s decision last week striking down the current Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan further confirms that the Supreme Court would likely strike down any noncompete rule promulgated by the FTC under the Major Questions Doctrine. See Biden v. Nebraska, 600 U.S. __ (June 30, 2023).

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Earlier today (June 20, 2023) the New York State Assembly voted in favor of a noncompete ban that was passed by the New York State Senate on June 7.  In previous posts here and here, we have discussed in detail this bill that would ban noncompete agreements in New York State.  The next stop for the bill is the office of Governor Kathy Hochul, who many believe is likely to sign it into law.  Though it may be difficult to believe, New York is on the precipice of becoming the fifth state (after California, North Dakota, Oklahoma and, as of July 1, 2023, Minnesota) to ban noncompetes.  Stay tuned…

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Two states recently have enacted restrictions on noncompete agreements being used within certain professions.

In Maine, on June 1, 2023, the Governor signed into law LD 688/ HP 457, entitled “An Act to Protect Access to Veterinary Care by Prohibiting Noncompete Agreements.”  The act amends Maine Revised Statute title 26, § 599-A, which already prohibits an employer from entering into a noncompete with an employee if the employee is earning wages at or below 400% of the federal poverty level. The new amendment expands the noncompete ban to licensed Maine veterinarians, with a carveout for those with an ownership interest in a practice.

Blogs
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Earlier this year, legislation was proposed in New York that would effectively ban all post-employment noncompetes. Few paid close attention to the proposals, ostensibly because similar legislation is proposed virtually every year in states across the country, including in New York, and typically nothing comes of it (Minnesota being the major exception, having recently passed a noncompete ban that goes into effect July 1, 2023).

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

Trade secret and non-compete litigation can result in massive damage awards, but those cases can also be unpredictable. Many viable trade secret claims go unexplored due to financial limitations or a lack of willingness to invest in litigation.

Attorney and Spilling Secrets host Erik W. Weibust and three special guests—Epstein Becker Green’s Managing Partner, James P. Flynn; Stephanie Southwick of Omni Bridgeway; and Mary Guzman of Crown Jewel Insurance—discuss the monetization of trade secrets litigation.

Blogs
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New York State may soon join the growing list of jurisdictions restricting or banning noncompete agreements. On June 7, 2023 the New York State Senate passed S 3100A (the “Bill”), which would prohibit employers from seeking, requiring, demanding, or accepting certain noncompete agreements.

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On June 2, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it finalized a consent order with Anchor Glass Container Corp. (“Anchor Glass”).

This consent order follows the FTC’s administrative complaint, filed in March 2023, against Anchor Glass and its controlling owners (the “Respondents”). The FTC’s complaint alleged that Anchor had entered into non-compete agreements with more than 300 employees and that these non-compete agreements were unfair and had the “tendency or likely effect of harming competition, consumers, and workers . . . .” 

Blogs
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On May 17, 2023, U.S. Senator Rob Wyden (D-OR) announced the release of a long-awaited report on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s multi-year investigation into the use of noncompete agreements across the U.S. labor market. In announcing the release, Senator Wyden said that the GAO report “highlights the problems of noncompete agreements – particularly their impact on limiting workers’ fundamental freedom to change jobs,” and pledged to “fight tooth and nail for fair labor laws that protect workers and promote the creation of new businesses in Oregon and nationwide.”

Blogs
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The National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued  a General Counsel memo today instructing the Labor Board’s Regional Directors of her position  that noncompete clauses for employees protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (i.e., nonmanagerial and nonsupervisory employees) in employment contracts and severance agreements violate federal labor law except in limited circumstances. The memo, while not law, outlines her legal theory which she will present to the National Labor Relations Board, which makes law primarily through adjudication of unfair labor practice cases.  The memo instructs the agency’s field offices of the position that the General Counsel is instructing them to take when investigating unfair labor practice charges claiming that such clauses interfere with employees’ rights under the NLRA.

Blogs
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For the last decade, one of the biggest issues in Illinois noncompete law has been what constitutes adequate consideration for a post-employment restrictive covenant, apart from employment lasting at least two years after the agreement was signed.  The “24 month rule” set forth in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 120327 has caused much head-scratching, and the Illinois legislature essentially punted on the issue in the recent amendments to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, 820 ILCS 90/1, et seq. (effective as of January 1, 2022).  (Full disclosure: One of the authors of this post advised the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in its negotiations with the State legislature over this law and, hence, can speak from personal experience on the legislative history of this “punt.”)

Blogs
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As expected, on May 24, 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed a new law banning noncompete agreements in Minnesota.  The ban will be effective for such agreements entered on or after July 1, 2023.

By enacting the Omnibus Jobs, Economic Development, Labor and Industry appropriations bill (MN SF 30035), Minnesota becomes only the fourth state (along with California, Oklahoma and North Dakota) to ban noncompetes. 

Blogs
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The day after obtaining federal brokerage authority for the logistics company he formed a month earlier, Christopher Johnson, a North Carolina resident, resigned from his employment with Cincinnati-based Total Quality Logistics, LLC (“TQL”). TQL then sued Johnson and his company Patriot Logistics (“Patriot”) in the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, alleging Johnson breached his employment agreement and misappropriated trade secrets in forming Patriot while still employed by TQL.

Johnson and Patriot removed the case to federal district court based on diversity jurisdiction. TQL moved to remand the case back to state court, arguing the $75,000 amount in controversy requirement was not met. After the federal court denied TQL’s remand motion, TQL voluntarily dismissed the case and refiled in state court. Johnson and Patriot removed the case yet again.

Blogs
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According to Bloomberg, The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is not expected to vote on the final version of a new rule that would ban noncompete clauses in employment contracts until April 2024. The rule defines a “non-compete clause” as “a contractual term between an employer and a worker that prevents the worker from seeking or accepting employment with a person, or operating a business, after the conclusion of the worker’s employment with the employer.”

As we previously reported, the proposed rule would ban employers from imposing noncompete agreements on their employees. The rule would also require employers to rescind all preexisting noncompete agreements and to notify all employees who had been subject to a noncompete agreement of the recission. Although the proposed rule would not prohibit other kinds of employment restrictions, such as nondisclosure agreements, certain restrictions that are overbroad could be subject to the new rule. For example, a non-disclosure agreement between an employer and an employee that is written so broadly that it effectively precludes the employee from working in the same field would be considered a “de facto” noncompete clause.

Blogs
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Earlier this year, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it was launching the Disruptive Technology Strike Force (“Strike Force”) in an effort “to target illicit actors, strengthen supply chains and protect critical technological assets from being acquired or used by nation-state adversaries.”  The DOJ’s initial announcement can be found here.  The Strike Force is co-led by the DOJ and Commerce Department with the goal of countering efforts by hostile nation-states seeking to illegally acquire sensitive United States technology.  On May 16, 2023, the DOJ announced criminal charges in five cases from five different U.S. Attorney’s Offices in connection with the Strike Force’s efforts.  Two of the cases involve allegations of trade secret theft from U.S. technology companies with the intent to market the technology in foreign countries. 

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

Human capital often drives the value of merger and acquisition (M&A) deals in the health care industry. Buyers involved in these deals must retain key employees to secure that value.

Epstein Becker Green’s Spilling Secrets hosts Erik W. Weibust and Katherine G. Rigby join forces with the Diagnosing Health Care podcast hosts Daniel L. Fahey and Timothy J. Murphy to talk about strategies to retain these employees.

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

The inevitable disclosure doctrine, expected to be a widely used tool to protect trade secrets after the famous PepsiCo, Inc. v. Redmond case in 1995, has not been as commonly employed as anticipated. But is the legal landscape about to change?

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

The 2023 Academy Awards are over, but we’re keeping the awards season alive with our very own Trade Secrets Fail Awards, highlighting Hollywood’s biggest missteps in depicting trade secret issues on-screen.

Panelists Peter A. SteinmeyerKatherine G. RigbyA. Millie Warner, and Daniel R. Levy discuss their picks for the worst trade secret theft and misappropriation in the movies and on television.

Blogs
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On February 21, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) continued its aggressive application of the National Labor Relations Act (“Act” or “NLRA”) to workplaces without union representation and lessened the value of severance agreements for all employers by finding it unlawful for an employer to merely proffer a severance agreement that includes broad non-disparagement and confidentiality provisions to an employee. In McLaren Macombthe Board held that a severance agreement that contains a confidentiality clause and a non-disparagement clause was unlawful because, in the Board’s view, these provisions impermissibly infringe on employees’ rights under the Act. Specifically, the Board found that these two provisions limit employees’ ability to discuss their wages, hours, and working conditions (which could include disparaging remarks) with other employees, prevent employees from assisting other employees seeking assistance, and hinder employees themselves from seeking assistance from the NLRB, unions, and other outside organizations.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2023 update to “Trade Secrets Litigation,” co-authored by our colleague Peter A. Steinmeyer.

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a proposed rule that would ban employers from using non-compete clauses.

Panelists Peter A. Steinmeyer and Erik W. Weibust and featured guest attorney Stuart M. Gerson discuss the proposed rule and next steps for employers.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2023 update to “Preparing for Non-Compete Litigation,” co-authored by our colleague Peter A. Steinmeyer.

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

Non-compete litigation is typically fast-paced and expensive. An employer must act quickly when it suspects that an employee or former employee is violating a noncompete agreement (also referred to as a non-competition agreement or non-compete). It is critical to confirm that there is sufficient factual and legal support before initiating ...

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

The holidays are over, and year-end bonuses are being paid, making January and the first quarter a common time for employees to jump ship to work for a competitor.

Our all-star panel of attorneys – Pete SteinmeyerKate RigbyMillie Warner, and Erik Weibust – discuss what an employer should do in this situation.

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

The year is coming to a close, and it was a big one in the world of trade secrets and non-competes. In this episode, we’re running down the key trends of 2022.

Blogs
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Our colleagues Erik Weibust, Carter DeLorme, and Philip Antablin co-authored an article in AHLA’s Health Law Connections, titled “Securing Key Employees in Health Care M&A Transactions with Restrictive Covenants.” (Read the full version – subscription required.) 

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

When faced with trade secret misappropriation, employers must decide how to proceed. In this episode, hear some tips on how and why employers might choose to refer the matter for criminal investigation.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released an update to “Trade Secret Laws: Connecticut,” a Q&A guide to state law on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers in Connecticut, co-authored by our colleagues David S. Poppick and Carol J. Faherty, attorneys at Epstein Becker Green.

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

Non-compete agreements are generally unenforceable against lawyers, but there are some exceptions. In this episode, hear about employer options for restrictive covenants, including non-competes, non-solicits, and confidentiality agreements, for both in-house and outside lawyers.

Blogs
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It’s no secret that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been struggling financially for well over a decade. One means of combatting its struggles has been to contract with third-party resellers to market USPS services and drive customers to it. Indeed, just one of those resellers, Express One, delivered over $3 billion in revenue to the USPS in the past 12 months alone. Although the annual operating budget of the USPS is $77 billion, $3 billion is still real money—especially since the USPS suffered losses of $6.9 billion last year.

Blogs
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“The law is not a game, and . . . civil discovery is not a game of hide and seek. The decision in this case should encourage litigants to understand that it is risky business to recklessly or deliberately fail to produce documents, and perilous to disobey court orders to review and, if necessary, supplement prior productions. It is in the interests of the administration of justice to default [defendants] to send those messages.”

So said United States District Judge Mark L. Wolf in a 72-page decision in which he entered a default judgment as a sanction in a trade secret case against the defendants for what he referred to as “extreme misconduct.” Memorandum and Order on Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions, Red Wolf Energy Trading, LLC v. BIA Capital Mgmt., LLC, et al., C.A. No. 19-10119-MLW (D. Mass. Sept. 8, 2022).

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

An employer often overlooks training employees on what their restrictive covenant means and how to honor their confidentiality, non-competition, and non-solicitation obligations. But this type of training can be critical for employers in protecting trade secrets and avoiding litigation in the future.

Blogs
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As our antitrust colleagues explained recently, on August 26, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published its “Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022–2026,” as required under the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010.  Readers of this blog will be interested in two small, but important, items in the Strategic Plan related to noncompete agreements.

First, under “Objective 2.1: Identify, investigate, and take actions against anticompetitive mergers and business practices,” the FTC opines that “[a]nticompetitive mergers and business practices harm Americans through higher prices, lower wages, or reduced quality, choice, and innovation. Enforcement of antitrust laws provides substantial benefits to the public by helping to ensure that markets are open and competitive.” It then identifies certain “[s]trategies” that the FTC intends to pursue over the next five years, including “[i]ncreas[ing] use of provisions to improve worker mobility including restricting the use of non-compete provisions.” It’s unclear exactly what provisions it intends to increase its use of, but nonetheless the FTC will be focused on the issue.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2022 update to “Trade Secret Laws: Illinois,” a Q&A guide to state law on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers, authored by our colleagues Peter Steinmeyer and David Clark at Epstein Becker Green.

Blogs
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Now on Spilling Secrets, our podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law:

Two and a half years into the pandemic, it appears that remote work is here to stay, to varying degrees, in virtually all industries. How do restrictive covenants work in this remote work era? In this Spilling Secrets episode, hear how employers are addressing restrictive covenant concerns now that employees may be located anywhere.

Blogs
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As we have previously reported, the Colorado Assembly passed sweeping changes to the state’s noncompete law that, among other things, (1) set compensation floors for enforcement of both noncompetes ($101,250) and customer non-solicitation agreements ($60,750), which will be adjusted annually based on inflation; (2) require a separate, standalone notice to employees before a new or prospective worker accepts an offer of employment, or at least 14 days before the earlier of: (a) the effective date of the restrictions, or (b) the effective date of any additional compensation or changes in the terms or conditions of employment that provide consideration for the restriction, for existing workers; and (3) prohibit the inclusion of out-of-state choice-of-law and venue provisions. Those amendments take effect today, August 10, 2022.

Compliance with these amendments is even more important due to a prior amendment, effective earlier this year, which provides that violations of Colorado’s noncompete law can subject employers to criminal liability (a Class 2 misdemeanor, which carries possible punishment of 120 days in prison, a $750 fine per violation, or both), as well as hefty fines and possible injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees to aggrieved workers.

Blogs
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As readers of this blog likely know, many states have entirely different statutory schemes for noncompetes in the healthcare industry. Indeed, while 47 states generally permit noncompetes, more than a dozen expressly prohibit or limit them in certain sectors of the healthcare industry – typically for patient-facing clinicians.

For example, in Massachusetts, noncompetes are not permissible in “[a]ny contract or agreement which creates or establishes the terms of a partnership, employment, or any other form of professional relationship with a physician registered to practice medicine . . . , which includes any restriction of the right of such physician to practice medicine in any geographic area for any period of time after the termination of such partnership, employment or professional relationship.” The same restriction applies to Massachusetts nurses, psychologists, and social workers.

Blogs
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Despite the Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 ruling in West Virginia v. EPA that regulatory agencies must have “clear congressional authorization” to make rules pertaining to “major questions” that are of “great political significance” and would affect “a significant portion of the American economy,” and the import of that ruling to the area of noncompete regulation (which we addressed in detail in Law360), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced yesterday that they are teaming up to address certain issues affecting the labor market, including the regulation of noncompetes.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) issued on July 19, 2022, the FTC and NRLB shared their shared view that:

Blogs
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Welcome to Spilling Secrets, a new monthly podcast series on the future of non-compete and trade secrets law.

If you’re hiring from a competitor amid the Great Resignation, one of your top priorities is not getting sued.

Blogs
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Washington, D.C. employers will not need to scrap all their non-compete agreements after all.  On July 12, 2022, the D.C. Council (the “Council”) passed the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 (B24-0256) (the “Amendment”), which among other things, tempers the District’s near-universal ban on non-compete provisions to permit restrictions for highly compensated employees.  For further analysis on the original D.C. Ban on Non-Compete Act, please see our previous articles here and here.

The Council delayed the initial ban several times in response to feedback from employer groups.  However, barring an unlikely veto or Congressional action during the mandatory review period, the amended ban will take effect as of October 1, 2022.  We detail the key revisions to the ban below.

Blogs
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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).

Blogs
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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….

Blogs
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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.

Blogs
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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 ...

Blogs
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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.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2022 update to “Preparing for Non-Compete Litigation,” co-authored by our colleague Peter A. Steinmeyer.

Blogs
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Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2022 update to “Trade Secrets Litigation,” co-authored by our colleague Peter A. Steinmeyer.

Blogs
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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 ...

Blogs
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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 ...

Blogs
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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 ...

Blogs
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In a case with significant ramifications for employers concerned with protecting sensitive information, and for employees accused of abusing access to computer networks, the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) heard oral argument this week in Van Buren v. United States, No. 19-783, a case from the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that will require interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030.  The argument was lively.  All of the Justices asked questions, and several expressed concern about vagueness in the CFAA’s definition ...

Blogs
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The 2020 update to our Practice Note, “Garden Leave Provisions in Employment Agreements,” is now available from Thomson Reuters Practical Law.  We discuss garden leave provisions in employment agreements as an alternative or a companion to traditional employee non-compete agreements.

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

In recent years, traditional non-compete agreements have faced increasing judicial scrutiny, with courts focusing on issues such as the adequacy of consideration, the propriety of non-competes for lower level ...

Blogs
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In Payward, Inc. v. Runyon, Case No. 20-cv-02130-MMC, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, ruling that information alleged to be “secret” failed to qualify as a “trade secret” under the Defend Trade Secrets Act.  The Court applied California and federal precedent explaining trade secret information confers a competitive business advantage, and found the complaint lacked any such allegations.  The decision make sense given the particular allegations in the case.  But does a “competitive business ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2020 update to “Trade Secret Laws: Illinois,” a Q&A guide to state law on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers, authored by our colleague David J. Clark at Epstein Becker Green.

The 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.

Download the full Q&A in PDF format here: Trade Secret ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2020 update to “Trade Secret Laws: Connecticut,” a Q&A guide to state law on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers, co-authored by our colleagues David S. Poppick and Carol J. Fahertyattorneys in Epstein Becker Green’s Stamford office.

Click here to download the full Q&A in PDF format.

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

After more than three years of litigation and two rounds of extensive discovery, in Calendar Research LLC v. StubHub, Inc., et al., 2:17-cv-04062-SVW-SS, the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed almost all the remaining claims against StubHub and the other defendants.  In doing so, the Court confirmed that in California, specific identifiable trade secrets are required and general industry knowledge and “know how” is insufficient for trade secret protection.

The individual defendants founded and/or worked for a startup named ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

A recent decision issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, presents a stark example of what can result when a defendant accused of trade secret misappropriation is careless in preserving electronically stored information (“ESI”) relevant to the lawsuit.

Silicon Valley-based autonomous car startup WeRide Corp. and WeRide Inc. (collectively, “WeRide”) sued rival self-driving car company AllRide.AI Inc. (“AllRide”), along with two of its former executives and AllRide’s related companies, asserting claims ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

For any attorney about to rush into New York State court to seek an injunction or temporary relief with regard to a violation of a non-compete or other restrictive covenant, or with regard to misappropriation of trade secrets, think again about venue.

By Administrative Order, dated March 22, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks has decreed that until further notice, New York State courts are accepting no filings unless the filings concern an emergency matter (as defined in the Order’s Exhibit A).  Neither restrictive covenant nor trade secret matters count as ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

We encourage our readers to visit Workforce Bulletin, the newest blog from our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green (EBG).

Workforce Bulletin will feature a range of cutting-edge issues—such as sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, pay equity, artificial intelligence in the workplace, cybersecurity, and the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human resources—that are of concern to employers across all industries. EBG's full announcement is here.

Click here to subscribe for email notifications—you’ll receive a confirmation email to click.

(And if you haven't ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

A New London Connecticut Superior Court jury awarded an $839,423 verdict in November 2019, involving theft of trade secrets for a $70 million U.S. Navy underwater drone project. This case, LBI, Inc. v. Sparks, et al., KNL-cv12-6018984-S, is a classic example of the blatant theft of an employer’s confidential and proprietary information that is so easily traceable to electronic files – and the costly consequences for the defendant employer’s complicity in that trade secret misappropriation.

Plaintiff LBI, Inc., a small Groton-based research and design development ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

A federal judge in Chicago recently held that an individual can be convicted of attempting to steal a trade secret, even if the information at issue did not actually constitute a trade secret, so long as the individual believed that the information was a trade secret.

In United States of America v. Robert O’Rourke Opinion, Judge Andrea R. Wood denied a post-conviction motion for a new trial in a case involving attempted and actual trade secret theft.  The decision involved a metallurgical engineer and salesperson, Robert O’Rourke, who resigned his employment to take a position as ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

I'm pleased to present the 2019 update to our "Trade Secrets Litigation" Practice Note, published by Thomson Reuters Practical Law. My co-author Zachary Jackson and I discuss litigation for employers whose employees have misappropriated trade secrets.

See below to download it in PDF format—following is an excerpt:

Trade secrets are often an employer’s most valuable assets. When an employee or former employee misappropriates an employer’s trade secrets, the employer frequently initiates litigation with several goals in mind, including:
  • Preventing further ...
Blogs
Clock less than a minute

California, the Golden State, is a special place to live and work. However, if you are an employer in California, you have most likely heard warnings of what you cannot do in terms of protecting your workforce and trade secrets and preventing unfair competition. While the rules of the road are different in California, employers are not without tools to protect their resources. And those tools are the focus of this program: what you can do to protect your workforce and trade secrets in California.

Join our colleagues Steven R. BlackburnJames A. Goodman, and Peter A ...

Blogs
Clock 14 minute read

The 2019 legal landscape of employee mobility continues to evolve, at times drastically. Courts and legislatures are giving increased scrutiny to employers’ claims to protect the confidentiality of their trade secrets and attempts to enforce their employees’ restrictive covenants, including non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. It can be hard for employers to prevent their confidential information and client goodwill from following certain departing employees.

With greater knowledge of the latest legal theories, decisions, statutes, and other ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Pursuant to a recently passed Oregon state law (HB 2992), noncompete agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2020 will only be enforceable against Oregon employees if the employer provides the departing employee with a signed copy of the agreement within 30 days after the employee’s date of termination.  Though at first blush, this law merely codifies the best practice of reminding departing employees of their continuing obligations to their former employer, it contains a few nuances Oregon employers should keep in mind.

The law requires employers to provide departing ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Downtown Chicago Dinner Program

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Repeat Suburban Lunch Program

Join our colleagues Lauri Rasnick, Kevin Ryan, and Peter Steinmeyer for an interactive panel discussion which will provide insights into recent developments and expected trends in the evolving legal landscape of trade secret and non-competition law. This program will also discuss unique issues and developments in the health care and financial services industry. Our colleagues will also be joined by Thomas J. Shanahan, Associate General Counsel at Option Care.

Issues ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute
Peter A. Steinmeyer, Co-Chair of the firm’s Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility strategic initiative and an editor of this blog, is set to present the webinar “Preventing & Remediating Trade Secret Misappropriation by Disloyal Employees,” for the Federal Bar Association. You can learn more about the webinar here and can register to attend here.
Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

A federal judge in Chicago recently taught a painful lesson to an Illinois employer: even if information is sufficiently sensitive and valuable that it could qualify as a “trade secret,” it won’t unless the owner of the information took adequate steps to protect its secrecy.

In a thorough opinion issued in the case, Abrasic 90 Inc., d/b/a CGW Camel Grinding Wheels, USA v. Weldcote Metals, Inc., Joseph O’Mera and Colleen Cervencik, U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois explained that “there are two basic elements to the analysis” of ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Tuesday, January 29, 2019
12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. ET 

Issues arising from employees and information moving from one employer to another continue to proliferate and provide fertile ground for legislative action and judicial decisions. Many businesses increasingly feel that their trade secrets or client relationships are under attack by competitors—and even, potentially, by their own employees. Individual workers changing jobs may try to leverage their former employer’s proprietary information or relationships to improve their new employment prospects, or may simply be ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Join Epstein Becker Green attorneys, Brian G. Cesaratto and Brian E. Spang, for a discussion of how employers can best protect their critical technologies and trade secrets from employee and other insider threats. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Determining your biggest threat by using available data
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Foreseeing the escalation in risk, from insider and cyber threats to critical technologies
  • New protections and remedies under the Trade Secret Protection Act of 2014
  • Where are your trade secrets located, and what existing protections are in place?
  • What ...
Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

In E.J. Brooks Company v. Cambridge Security Seals, the Court of Appeals of New York narrowed the scope of permissible damage claims plaintiffs can assert in trade secret actions under New York law. The ruling denies plaintiffs the ability to recover costs that defendants avoided through misappropriating trade secrets (known as “avoided costs” theory), making New York law less attractive to certain types of trade secret actions due to the state’s conservative approach in calculating damages.

E.J. Brooks Company d/b/a TydenBrooks ("TydenBrooks"), the largest ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Following what it described as a three year “one-man legal circus,” a Seventh Circuit panel recently affirmed a sanction award of over $440,000 in a trade secret misappropriation case, after finding that the defendant, Raj Shekar, “demonstrated nothing but disrespect, deceit, and flat-out hostility[.]” Teledyne Technologies Incorporated v. Raj Shekar, No. 17-2171, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 17153, at *13 (7th Cir. June 25, 2018).

Shekar worked at Teledyne Technologies as a marketing and sales manager from June 2013 until he was fired less than two years later. Following his ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read
Jim Flynn, an attorney in Epstein Becker & Green’s Newark, New Jersey office, recently addressed in separate forums the delicate balance that trade secret owners and their counsel must strike when litigating over trade secrets and confidential information. First, Mr. Flynn moderated a panel discussion among trade secret litigators (including one from Beijing) at the American Intellectual Property Law Association (“AIPLA”) Spring Meeting in Seattle, Washington. His May 16th AIPLA session was entitled “A Litigator’s Guide to Protecting Trade Secrets During ...
Blogs
Clock 5 minute read

On May 10, 2018, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee advanced Assembly Bill A1769, a bill that seeks to provide stricter requirements for the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

If enacted, the legislation would permit employers to enter into non-competes with employees as a condition of employment or within a severance agreement, but such non-competes would only be enforceable if they meet all of the requirements set forth in the legislation. Thus, if enacted, employers will have to comply with the following requirements in order for a New Jersey non-competition agreement ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

In managing workforces, particularly when addressing employee turnover, employers often find themselves facing issues regarding how best to safeguard their confidential business information and how to protect their relationships with clients and employees. In recent years, the legal landscape underlying these issues has been evolving, as lawmakers and judges grapple with the tension in these matters between protection and free competition.

In this Take 5, we examine recent developments, both in the courts and legislative bodies, concerning trade secrets and employee ...

Blogs
Clock 4 minute read

Consider the following scenario: your organization holds an annual meeting with all Research & Development employees for the purpose of having an open discussion between thought leaders and R&D regarding product-development capabilities. This year’s meeting is scheduled outside the United States and next year’s will be within the U.S. with all non-U.S. R&D employees traveling into the U.S. to attend. For each meeting, your employees may be subject to a search of their electronic devices, including any laptop that may contain your company’s trade secrets. Pursuant to a new ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

Financial analytics firm Novantas, Inc. and two individual defendants closed out 2017 with a victory, securing the dismissal of claims by rival First Manhattan Consulting Group LLC (“First Manhattan Consulting Group”) [1], which accused them of competing unfairly by poaching First Manhattan Consulting Group’s employees in order to steal its trade secrets.  The result demonstrates the need for plaintiffs in such cases to be able to prove with specificity which trade secrets were taken or threatened by the defendants’ conduct.

The Complaint alleged that Novantas engaged ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

In First Western Capital Management Co. v. Malamed, Case Nos. 16-1434, 16-1465 & 16-1502 (10th Cir. Oct. 30, 2017), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court erred in issuing a preliminary injunction to a party under federal and state trade secret law where the court presumed that the party would be irreparably harmed absent the injunction.

Ordinarily, in order to obtain a preliminary injunction, a moving party needs to establish, among other things, that it will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is denied. This requires the party to show that there is a ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Plaintiff Art & Cook, Inc., a cookware and kitchenware company, brought suit in New York federal court against a former salesperson, Abraham Haber, when a search of his work computer revealed that he had emailed to his personal email account two categories of documents alleged by Art & Cook to be trade secrets: (i) its customer contact lists and (ii) its designs and branding/marketing strategies. Although the court already had issued a temporary restraining order, in Art & Cook, Inc. v. Haber, No. 17-cv-1634, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164366 (E.D.N.Y. Oct 3, 2017), the court denied Art & ...

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

It is highly likely that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) will adopt a model data cyber security law premised largely on the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYSDFS”) cyber security regulations.  Recently, we discussed the NYSDFS’ proposed extension of its cyber security regulations to credit reporting agencies in the wake of the Equifax breach.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced, “The Equifax breach was a wakeup call and with this action New York is raising the bar for consumer protections that we ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute
We just published a Practice Note with the Practical Law Company discussing litigation for employers whose employees have misappropriated trade secrets. With PLC’s permission, we have attached it here.
Blogs
Clock less than a minute

In a very thorough analysis following a 3 day Preliminary Injunction hearing Judge Jed Rakoff declined to issue injunctive relief to a former employer seeking to enjoin four former employees and their new employer from competing or from soliciting clients or employees. The decision is far ranging in the employee movement context touching upon inadvertent retention of confidential information, the propriety of new employers providing broad indemnifications and large signing bonuses to the recruits,  and the scope of allowable “preparatory conduct” in a one year non-compete ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

In this age of social media, a frequently asked question is whether social media activity can violate a non-compete or non-solicit.   Although the case law is evolving, courts which have addressed the issue have focused on the content of the communication, rather than the medium used to convey it.  In so doing, they have distinguished between mere passive social media activity (e.g., posting an update about a new job) as opposed to more targeted, active actions (e.g., not merely posting about a new job, but also actively recruiting former co-workers or clients).

A “LinkedIn” case ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

A recent decision from the Northern District of California, Magic Leap, Inc. v. Bradski et. al., shows that employers must meet a high standard when filing a California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2019.210 disclosure statement under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”). See California Civil Code § 3426 et seq. The disclosure statement, which does not have a counterpart in the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, requires a plaintiff to “identify the trade secret with reasonable particularity” before it can conduct discovery of the defendants’ evidence ...

Blogs
Clock 4 minute read

Consider the following scenario that was the premise of the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), and later adapted into the classic film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971): your company (Willy Wonka Chocolates) is in the candy business and develops an idea for an everlasting gobstopper (a sucking candy that never gets smaller).  Anticipating substantial profits from the product, the company designates the everlasting gobstopper formula as a trade secret.  As in the book and film, a rival chocolate company (Slugworth Chocolates) seeks to steal the trade secret ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

California has always been a challenging jurisdiction for employers in terms of limiting unfair competition by former employees and protecting trade secrets. However, employers in the state can significantly enhance their ability to protect their business interests in these areas with a little planning and strategic thinking.

In this issue of Take 5, we look at some proactive steps that employers can take to prevent unfair competition by departed employees and protect trade secrets from misappropriation:

Blogs
Clock 5 minute read

NuScience Corporation is a California corporation that researches, develops and distributes health and beauty products, including nutritional supplements. In 2009, NuScience obtained by default a permanent injunction in a California federal court against Robert and Michael Henkel, the nephew of a woman from whom NuScience purchased the formula for a nutritional supplement, prohibiting them from selling or marketing NuScience’s trade secrets. Before the federal court injunction was entered, NuScience terminated the employment of David McKinney, NuScience Vice ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

In an order dated April 20, 2017, New York’s Court of Appeals agreed to hear Sergey Aleynikov’s appeal of his conviction under an arcane New York criminal statute.

Aleynikov is a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer, arrested in July 2009 and accused of stealing computer source code from the bank.  Originally, a federal jury found him guilty of violating both the National Stolen Property Act and the Economic Espionage Act, but that verdict was overturned by the Second Circuit in April 2012 (after Aleynikov had been incarcerated for over a year).

More recently, Aleynikov also ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Insurance coverage is not something which comes to mind when thinking about trade secret misappropriation. In fact, since this blog was started in 2009, I cannot recall a single post about an insurance coverage issue.

That being said, one of the first things prudent defense counsel will do when a client is sued for alleged trade secret misappropriation is to instruct their client to notify their insurance carrier and inquire as to whether there is coverage for some or all of the claims. Sometimes there is; sometimes there isn’t.  However, the prudent course of action is always to play it ...

Blogs
Clock 5 minute read

Two recent decisions by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clarify the intersection between federal copyright law and state trade secret  law. In GlobeRanger Corp. v. Software AG United States of America, Inc., 836 F.3d 477 (5th Cir. Sep. 7, 2016), the Fifth Circuit rejected an appeal in which the defendant argued that a plaintiff’s trade secret misappropriation claim was preempted by federal copyright law. Just four months later, in Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts, Inc., No. 15-20084, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 509 (5th Cir. Jan. 11, 2017), the Fifth Circuit upheld a district ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

The year-end episode of Employment Law This Week  looks back at the biggest employment, workforce, and management issues in 2016.

Our colleague Jonathan Shapiro discusses the impact of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA)—which opened federal courts to trade secrets claims, regardless of the dollar value—and the White House's call to action encouraging states to ban non-compete agreements in some circumstances.

Watch the segment below and read Epstein Becker Green's recent Take 5 newsletter, "Top Five Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Issues of 2016."

Blogs
Clock 12 minute read

Whether you are a young child missing teeth, or a grown-up taking account of her life, or Santa Claus himself checking up on everyone else’s life, many of us make lists at holiday time.  They can be lists of gifts we want, or those we need to get, or people we wish to see or write to, or things we need or want to do before the end of the year.  Sometimes they are just lists of things that happened this year or that we want to happen next year.  Certainly there are lots of “Top Ten” holiday lists.  This one may be neither an exception nor exceptional, but here is a “Top Ten List of Holiday-Related Trade ...

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