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

This month, the Ninth Circuit’s decision in DePuy Synthes Sales v. Howmedica Osteonics  held that a U.S. district court in California properly invalidated a foreign choice-of-law and forum selection provision under California Labor Code § 925, and denied a motion to transfer the case to a different venue.  While this might seem at first blush like a technical issue of federalism and contractual interpretation, the decision indicates that federal courts in the Ninth Circuit will also apply California’s partial prohibition on the use of foreign forum-selection and choice-of-law clauses as to employees.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Upholds Application of California Labor Code To Contractual Forum-Selection and Choice-of-Law Clause To Keep Dispute Over Non-Compete Clause in California

On January 24, 2022, the Federal Circuit affirmed the grant of a preliminary injunction blocking the publication of a patent application on the basis that it contained the plaintiff, Masimo Corp.’s trade secrets. Masimo Corp. v. True Wearables, Inc., No. 2021-2146, 2022 WL 205485 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 24, 2022). The Court of Appeals did so despite evidence that a widely circulated and cited paper on statistics had disclosed an equivalent algorithm, because the defendant failed to show that others in Masimo’s particular field (or a related field) were aware of the paper.

Continue Reading Federal Circuit Deems Algorithm Potentially Valid Trade Secret Notwithstanding Prior Publication

A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in BladeRoom Group Limited v. Emerson Electric Co. further stresses the importance of carefully crafting the terms and conditions in a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”), and ensuring there is no ambiguity as to when the NDA’s confidentiality protections expire.  The Court in Bladeroom reversed a multi-million dollar judgment for the plaintiff, based largely on the Court’s differing interpretation of the duration of the confidentiality obligations under the NDA.

Continue Reading A Cautionary Tale on Including an Expiration Date in NDAs

In an important decision on August 19, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Aya Healthcare Services, Inc. v. AMN Healthcare, Inc. affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of AMN, finding that the non-solicitation provision in the parties’ agreement was not an unreasonable restraint in violation of the federal antitrust law known as the “Sherman Act.”  Instead, the Court ruled that the non-solicitation provision was “reasonably necessary to the parties’ pro-competitive collaboration” and that Aya failed to show the non-solicitation provision had a “substantial anticompetitive effect.”[1]

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Denies Sherman Act Challenge To No-Poach Provision

Trade secrets and patents offer very different forms of protection, with different pros and cons. A trade secret may last indefinitely, while a patent has a fixed term of 20 years. Independent reinvention is permissible under trade secrets, but not with patents. And of course to obtain a patent, one must disclose the claimed invention to the public, in sufficient detail to enable one skilled in the relevant technology to make and use the invention.

Continue Reading Trade Secret vs. Patent – a False Dichotomy

In trade secrets litigation, it is often critical to expeditiously obtain protection from further disclosure or continued misappropriation of the trade secret at issue through a motion for preliminary injunction.  Courts are quick to point out, however, that preliminary injunctions are “an extraordinary and drastic remedy,” and are only to be granted if the movant, “by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion” as to each element of the preliminary injunction test.  Lopez v. Brewer, 680 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 2012) (observing that to obtain preliminary injunctive relief, a plaintiff must generally demonstrate that: “1) he is likely to succeed on the merits of such a claim; 2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; 3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and 4) that an injunction is in the public interest.”).

Continue Reading Trade Secret Litigants Take Note: California District Court Provides Guidance on Obtaining a Preliminary Injunction and Expedited Discovery

You may be able to bring a misappropriation of trade secrets claim even if you do not actually own the misappropriated trade secret.  A growing number of federal cases indicate ownership of a trade secret may not be required in order for a plaintiff to sue for misappropriation; possession alone may be enough to confer standing.
Continue Reading Is Lawful Possession of a Trade Secret Enough for Standing to Sue for Misappropriation?

When filing a claim for trade secret misappropriation under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) or a state’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), it is essential to strike the proper balance between sufficiently describing an underlying trade secret and avoiding disclosure of any details that would destroy its secrecy.  A federal court decision issued earlier this month in the Northern District of California, MBS Engineering Inc., et al. v. Black Hemp Box, LLC, et al., No. 20-cv-02825-JD, 2021 WL 2458370 (N.D. Cal. June 16, 2021), highlights this “obvious tension between the right of public access to court proceedings and the ‘secret’ part of a trade secret” and provides a useful example of the factors used by courts to assess an appropriately alleged trade secret claim.
Continue Reading Striking the Balance Between Detailed Description and Unnecessary Disclosure of the “Secret” in Trade Secret Litigation Pleadings