Posts Tagged: "Uniform Trade Secrets Act"

‘Reasonable Efforts’ Require Care and Consistency

At this moment, there is a fellow riding a bus in London who will determine the fate of your secrets. To be more precise, he’s on the Clapham bus; but he has no name. In fact, he’s a fictional character originally imagined by 19th Century journalist Walter Bagehot, who thought that “public opinion” was best described as the “opinion of the bald-headed man at the back of the omnibus.” The idea was picked up by the English courts as a metaphor for the “reasonable person” standard that is applied in all sorts of cases, from criminal to personal injury to contract interpretation. It also has special application to trade secrets, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Gathering Business Data? Be Careful, Mom is Watching – A Comment on Data Scraping and the Compulife Case

When people say that “data is the new oil,” they’re talking about new ways of creating wealth. No matter what business you’re in, success today depends on learning everything you can about your customers and competitors. And there’s so much information sloshing around the internet, every industry—from restaurants to manufacturers to sports teams—is busy extracting insights from “big data” analysis. But, like drilling for oil, prospecting for data sometimes gets your hands dirty. Recently, a court ruled that a startup company providing life insurance quotes to consumers had created its database – the engine of its busines – by taking data from an existing company (Compulife) that had built theirs from scratch.

Patents are from Mars, Trade Secrets are From Venus

Back in ancient times, in this case 1990, John Gray, an obscure “relationship counselor” with a correspondence degree in psychology, was perplexed. The communication problems of the heterosexual couples he worked with were so serious that he couldn’t explain them by individual circumstances. His clients seemed to be talking past each other, almost as if they were coming from different planets. With that tired metaphor in mind, he penned the book Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus, generalizing what he thought were the universal, contrasting communication styles of the sexes…. In effect, [Gray] has become rich by talking about how incompatible men and women are, despite eons of evidence to the contrary. In our world of intellectual property, it once was like this between patents and trade secrets.

‘Improper Means’: The Eleventh Circuit’s Very Dubious Trade Secrets Decision in Compulife Software v. Newman (Part II)

Part 1of this article addressed the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Compulife Software, Inc. v. Newman, __ F.3d __, 2020 WL 2549505, (11th Cir. May 20, 2020) and the court’s dubious conclusion that information “scraped” from a public website could be a trade secret. In particular, on this issue, the court held that even if the “scraped quotes were not individually protectable trade secrets because each is readily available to the public…taking enough of them must amount to misappropriation of the underlying secret at some point. Part II will address the understanding of “improper means” under trade secret law and whether the Eleventh Circuit was correct in determining that the use of bots to scrape a very large amount of information from a website can constitute “improper means” for acquiring such information.

The Fragile Nature of Trade Secrets: Clues from the Courts on How to Keep Them

Trade secrets have become an increasingly valuable asset to many companies, but compared to other types of intellectual property, including patents, copyrights and trademarks, they are extremely “fragile,” and require that an owner undertake as many steps as possible to protect their information and be vigilant about the need to protect such information to the fullest extent possible. The failure to do so may lead to a court’s finding in a misappropriation case that the information in question is not protectable as a trade secret. As described below, it is very easy for trade secrets to lose protection under a variety of circumstances, even where the owner has taken what it believes are “reasonable measures” as required for trade secret protection under 18 U.S.C. § 1839(3)(A. In short, authorities in this area teach that the more steps a party undertakes to protect its trade secrets, the more likely that a court will find those steps to constitute “reasonable measures.”

Trade Secrets: Intellectual Property Considerations and Guidance for Start-Ups

Trade secret holders must take reasonable precautions to maintain the secrecy of their secrets, such as keeping such information on a “need-to-know” basis. Companies should have clear IP, confidentiality, and employment agreements describing which types of information are considered trade secrets. These agreements should also describe an employee’s responsibility for maintaining the secrecy of such information. In spite of reasonable precautions by a trade secret holder, bad actors may maliciously misappropriate trade secrets.

Some Lessons From the Waymo (Alphabet) Versus Uber Theft of Trade Secret Litigation

Although the amount of the settlement was far less than $2.7 billion in amount sought by Waymo, the settlement apparently did include a payment from Uber of 0.34% of Uber equity—or about $244.8 million in stock based on a $72 billion valuation of Uber… Both sides had a lot riding on the outcome of the trial. In addition to the billions in damages, Waymo was seeking an injunction to prevent Uber from using any technology that may have originated from Waymo, which would have been a huge set back for Uber’s program. Indeed, during his first day of being questioned, the former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, agreed that developing autonomous vehicles amounts to an “existential question” for Uber, and that the market for driverless cars is likely to be “winner-take-all.”

Critical Importance of Realistically Identifying and Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

California employers often face an upward battle when it comes to protecting against competitive activity by former employees… In order to safeguard their trade secrets, companies doing business in California need to be on the offensive to ensure that they are properly protected at both the beginning and end of the employment relationship. At the beginning of an employment relationship, employers may set the groundwork for protecting trade secrets by entering into confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements with their employees. These agreements will help establish one element of a claim under the UTSA, which is that the employer took reasonable steps to identify its trade secrets and maintain their confidentiality.

The Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Trade Secret Law

The current extraterritorial reach of U.S. trade secret law may seem ironic given trade secret law’s “local” roots. In the United States, common law trade secret principles emerged through a diverse patchwork of state court decisions addressing local commercial disputes. These local common law principles were first distilled in the Restatement of Torts and the Restatement of Unfair Competition and then codified in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in 1979. Underscoring the local prerogative of trade secret law, state legislatures modified and tailored the Uniform Trade Secrets Act to reflect their state-specific concerns and needs. For many years, despite a push for national uniformity, a number of states chose not to adopt a statutory scheme at all (some still haven’t).

Trade Secrets Directive: Its effect and the impact of Brexit

If you ask ten different people, you will probably get ten different answers. In fact, fewer than half of the European Union’s 28 member states actually have a clear legal definition at all for a trade secret. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the ways in which trade secrets are defined and treated varies considerably between the EU’s member states. These inconsistencies make it tricky for companies to do business in the EU. Somewhat belatedly, the EU has recognized the problems posed and, in order to address them, it has taken the step of harmonizing and upgrading the existing legal landscape by passing the Trade Secrets Directive.

How the New Trade Secrets Law May Affect You

Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law the new federal “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.” It arms with substantial new weaponry those whose trade secrets have been taken. What has been less heralded, but might just affect you more directly, are new requirements that might lead you to revise your standard confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.

Misappropriation of a Trade Secret Under the DTSA

The DTSA amends the definition of misappropriation from what was found in the EEA to bring the definition more in line with that of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) that has been adopted by almost all U.S. states. Indeed, apart of explicitly recognizing certain potential defenses that are discussed in the commentary of the UTSA, the DTSA is identical to the UTSA. According to the House Report, “The Committee intentionally used this established definition to make clear that this Act is not intended to alter the balance of current trade secret law or alter specific court decisions.” House of Representatives, Report No. 114-529, April 26, 2016, at 14. Federal courts therefore, will look to state decisions involving the state’s version of the UTSA for guidance.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Creates Federal Jurisdiction for Trade Secret Litigation

There is now federal jurisdiction for trade secret theft. The DTSA creates a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation that largely mirrors the current state of the law under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which has been adopted by 48 states. The DTSA uses a similar definition of trade secrets, and a three-year statute of limitations, and it authorizes remedies similar to those found in current state laws. The DTSA will not preempt existing state law, which will preserve and afford plaintiffs’ options in regards to whether to file federal or state claims and which court to select.

Five Things to Know About the Defend Trade Secrets Act

On April 27, 2016, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), which President Obama is scheduled to sign later today. The DTSA extends the current Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (“EEA), which criminalizes trade secret thefts, to the civil arena. This means for the first time, trade secret owners can now bring suits in federal district courts, without having to resort to another basis for jurisdiction, such as the ill-fitting Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. While not without critics, the DTSA is a major step forward in the protection of intellectual property in the United States, not least because federal law now fully recognizes four types of intellectual property (patents, copyrights, and trademarks). This article highlights five important things that every trade secret owner should know, which includes almost every company in the U.S.

The Inadequacy of Trade Secret Law and Why Congress Should Pass the DTSA

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) will improve trade secret protection, which will incentivize innovation and benefit companies–large and small–in all industry sectors. I have seen the letter in support of this legislation signed by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, tech associations, and an array of well-known companies in a variety of industries. But I can also tell you from my experience representing small businesses that they rely on trade secret law far more than patenting to protect their intellectual property, and this legislation will improve their ability to compete.