The recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Caudill Seed & Warehouse Co. v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc., illustrates the flexible approach taken by courts when considering the calculation of compensatory damages in trade secrets cases. No. 21-5345, 2022 WL 16846585 (6th Cir. Nov. 10, 2022) There, the Sixth Circuit affirmed a jury’s compensatory damages verdict which awarded the plaintiff its research and development costs for its misappropriated trade secret even though the underlying trade secret was not destroyed through disclosure or other means. Id. at *15.

Continue Reading Reap What You Sow – Sixth Circuit Affirms Recovery of Research and Development Costs to Agricultural Company in Trade Secret Case

The tension between encouraging free and fair competition and protecting competitive advantages derived from hard work and ingenuity is at the very heart of trade secrets law. Among other things, this tension manifests itself in the gray areas endemic to any legal analysis of what information may constitute a “trade secret.” In comparison, assessing the behavior of those accused of misappropriating trade secrets can sometimes be a much more straightforward exercise. And it seems that the more egregious (and less “gray”) the behavior, the more likely a court is to exercise its limited discretion to restrain competition at the preliminary relief stage to prevent disclosure and use of misappropriated trade secrets. The 3rd Circuit’s recent decision in Matthews International Corp. v. Lombardi(October 12, 2022) is a timely example of this principle.

Continue Reading One Bad Apple Won’t Spoil the Rest of the Bunch’s Ability to Fairly Compete in Matthews International Corp. v. Lombardi

Should a defendant found liable for stealing trade secrets have to fork over all of the research and development costs it theoretically avoided by misappropriating the secrets? Yes, according to the “avoided costs” theory of unjust enrichment that is gaining traction and resulting in large verdicts in DTSA and UTSA cases around the country.[1] 
Continue Reading The Developing “Avoided Costs” Remedy in Trade Secret Litigation

On July 27, 2022, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022, scaling back certain aspects of D.C.’s original Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020. As we previously reported, the original ban included some of the most substantial non-compete restrictions in the country, including prohibiting the use of non-compete agreements for nearly all employees working in D.C. and banning anti-moonlighting policies. Here are some key takeaways from the Amendment:

Continue Reading The District of Columbia Revises Ban on Non-Competes

While preliminary injunctions are not uncommon in trade secrets misappropriation cases, a recent Fifth Circuit decision highlighted the importance that the movant put forth colorable evidence of misappropriator “use” of the trade secrets in preliminary injunction cases. In CAE INTEGRATED, L.L.C.; Capital Asset Exchange and Trading, L.L.C. v. MOOV TECHNOLOGIES, INCORPORATED; Nicholas Meissner — F.5th — (2022) 2022 WL 3210358 , the Fifth Circuit affirmed denial of a preliminary injunction for the lack of evidence showing such use. In this case, CAE sued Meissner, a former employee, and MOOV, his subsequent employer, for trade secret misappropriation in the Western District of Texas under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA). CAE also moved for a preliminary injunction, which was denied. CAE appealed that denial in the Fifth Circuit.

Continue Reading Insufficient Evidence: Fifth Circuit Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction for Trade Secret Misappropriation

The Seventh Circuit recently affirmed summary judgment in favor of a former employee and his new employer on claims for misappropriation of trade secrets relating to a prototype of an actuator created eleven years prior, holding that the inference that the defendant used his knowledge of the prototype more than a decade later was “barely conceivable” and “exceptionally unreasonable.” REXA, Inc. v. Chester, — F.4th —, 2022 WL 2981167, at *6 (7th Cir. 2022) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Continue Reading Unfashionably Late: Seventh Circuit Rejects Misappropriation Claim Premised On Prototype Created Eleven Years Prior

Litigators know it is generally not easy to recover attorneys’ fees in defense of a trade secret misappropriation action. The Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) permits a court to “award reasonable attorneys’  fees” to the defendant when a claim of misappropriation  is “made in bad faith,” which “may be established by circumstantial evidence.”[1] But what exactly does bad faith mean and what is the threshold?
Continue Reading A High Mountain to Climb: Filing DTSA Claims Without any Evidence is Not Enough to Meet “Bad Faith” Standard for Awarding Attorneys’ Fees to Opponent

Over the past two years, employee mobility seems to be at an all-time high.  In fact, the labor market is so fluid that pundits and experts often refer to it as the “Great Resignation.”  Although employee mobility can be a great opportunity for both employees and prospective employers, employers hiring new employees should always beware of potential problems such as restrictive covenants, which may follow an employee to a new job.
Continue Reading Void vs. Voidable: The Distinction That Can Make or Break a Tortious Interference Claim in Light of the Great Resignation

Trade secret litigation presents a variety of procedural and practical complexities at every stage of the proceeding. One of the most important—yet often overlooked—issues in these cases can be summarized by the following question:
Continue Reading Signed, Sealed, Delivered? Fifth Circuit Finds Sealing of Sensitive Information Requires Far More Than a Protective Order

A recent decision from the Eastern District of California illustrates the sometimes fine line between the need for plaintiffs to allege a claim for trade secret misappropriation in sufficient detail,
Continue Reading Dairy, LLC v. Milk Moovement, Inc.: Identifying Software Trade Secrets With Particularity to State a Claim for Trade Secret Misappropriation