Trade Secrets

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Protecting Your Trade Secrets Through Restrictive Covenants

How can I prevent employees from stealing my protected information?

Trade secrets are often a central component to your business’ success. Whether it be confidential customer lists, software programs, recipes, or any other protected information, the theft of trade secrets can be quite damaging to a business. Trade secret theft is most often committed by employees or former employees. Often, employees who are about to leave the company will take trade secrets with them. To protect your trade secrets, it is critical that you have some sort of Read more . . .

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Apple Faces Allegations of Trade Secret Theft

Qualcomm, a telecommunications company that focuses on the development and licensing of mobile phone chips, recently accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and giving them to competitor Intel Corp.  In its lawsuit, Qualcomm asserts that Apple unlawfully transmitted the company’s trade secrets for the purpose of improving upon chipsets like those manufactured by Intel, so that Intel could ultimately garner Qualcomm’s Apple-based business.  This lawsuit is just the most recent in a series of legal disputes between Apple and Qualcomm.  Our NYC trade secrets lawyers discuss the Qualcomm versus Apple battle and the ways in which your company can protect trade secrets below.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tips to Better Protect Your Trade Secrets

How can I protect my trade secrets even with ever growing technological advancements?

In today’s technology driven world, employers are increasingly vulnerable to theft of their trade secrets. Employees today can rapidly pass trade secrets through their cell phones or a USB. Even further, as more information moves to the digital cloud, misappropriation can happen nearly instantaneously.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Protecting Your Trade Secrets

How do I protect my business’ trade secrets?

Your trade secrets are likely an invaluable part of your business’ success.  Trade secrets can include formulas, patterns, practices, and processes that are unique and confidential.  Your trade secrets can be found in your restaurant’s special recipes, your proprietary method for creating products, or your unique client list, for example.  Protecting your trade secrets from competitors is vital to the ongoing success of your business.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Effects of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) on Employers

What steps should employers take to facilitate the protection of their DTSA rights?

When President Obama signed the DTSA into law this past May, he provided employers with a method for dealing with trade secret misappropriation claims. The recognition that trade secrets "make up an increasingly important part of American companies’ intellectual property portfolios," pushed Congress to enact the Act to create a protection for trade secrets paralleling that already in place for other intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks. It is precisely because of legal changes like these that it is essential for employers to have skilled, knowledgeable employment and copyright attorneys behind them as they struggle to keep pace with future developments in the world of business.

Those who back the DTSA assert that, in addition to giving plaintiffs access to judiciary expertise on a federal level as they navigate intellectual property (IP) disputes, the DTSA will make trade secret law more consistent and predictable, helping employers to protect their rights during disputes, even disputes that cross state lines.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Important Information about the Defend Trade Secrets Act

What is the Defend Trade Secrets Act?

When President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) last month, he provided business owners with another tool to protect the confidential information that gives them an economic advantage over their competitors. There is now a new cause of action in federal court designed to prevent and/or punish the misappropriation of trade secrets. Significantly, the DTSA does not preempt state laws regarding these matters, so employers and owners can now bring legal actions under both DTSA and state laws. It is always wise to engage the services of an experienced, well-reputed employment and copyright law attorney when dealing with such issues and disputes since they can be crucial to the success, or even the survival, of your business.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cross It Off the Bucket List - Caterpillar To Pay $73.6 Million for Stealing Trade Secrets

What are the details of the trade secret lawsuit involving Caterpillar?

In December 2015, the construction equipment maker Caterpillar was ordered by a federal jury to pay $73.6 million for stealing the design of one of its vendors, Miller U.K., Ltd. The vendor had designed a coupling device that links heavy buckets to hydraulic excavation machines and the manufacturing method was deemed to be a trade secret. Caterpillar apparently entered into an agreement to buy the coupling device, but used the design and manufactured the coupling devices instead.

What is a Trade Secret?

A trade secret is confidential information that gives a business a competitive advantage in the marketplace, arising from its manufacturing processes, business practices, formulas, designs or patterns.

The essential elements of trade secret claims include:

  • Information that is generally unknown to the public
  • Information that gives the business an economic advantage over competitors
  • Information the business reasonably attempted to keep confidential
  • Information acquired by a competitor through misconduct

In this case, because Caterpillar had entered into an agreement with Miller, Caterpillar gained access to confidential information about the manufacturing process of the vendors coupling device. The $73.6 million verdict has been reported to be the largest award under the Illinois Trade Secret Act.

One controversial aspect of this case is the growing industry of so-called litigation financing which involved a consulting firm that bankrolled Miller's lawsuit, in return for a percentage of the jury award. Proponents of litigation financing argue that it grants small litigants legal recourse against wealthy defendants.  On the other hand, critics believe that giving investors a stake in the outcome of a case can unduly influence the litigant's decision-making. In any event, Caterpillar intends to appeal the decision.

What can I do if my trade secrets are stolen?

There are a number of ways to protect a trade secret, but even if precautions are taken to keep it confidential, a trade secret can still be stolen. As was the situation in this case, a trade secret can be obtained through breach of confidentiality.  If you believe a trade secret belonging to your business has been stolen, a qualified attorney can file a lawsuit to both obtain monetary damages and obtain an injunction to stop the thief from using the trade secret.

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