Though an employer may be eager to bring a trade secret claim against former employees as soon as possible, filing suit before properly vetting the claim can lead to serious consequences: a malicious prosecution case against the lawyers who signed the pleadings.
A law firm is fighting such allegations in California after losing at bench trial on behalf of FLIR Systems, Inc. and Indigo Systems Corporation (collectively, “FLIR”), who brought suit against a group of former employees attempting to launch a competing business. Though the California Court of Appeal for the Second District affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the employee’s malicious prosecution suit could not proceed, Parrish v. Latham & Watkins, 238 Cal.App.4th 81 (2015), the California Supreme Court recently announced it will reconsider that decision.
Social media is everywhere nowadays. The line between professional and personal with these accounts is growing more and more blurred. As such, lines designed to protect employee privacy are intersecting with trade secret protection in conflicting ways.
Joining LXBN TV to explain is Seyfarth Shaw attorney Eric Barton—author on the firm’s blog, Trading Secrets.
There’s no doubt that protection of trade secrets is a major concern for most businesses operating in today’s global economy. As we have previously discussed, a few years ago CREATe.org and PwC US released a report that highlighted how far-reaching and deeply challenging trade secret theft is for companies operating on a global scale. Notably, in their report, CREATe.org and PwC estimated that trade secrets theft costs anywhere between 1-3% of the GDP of the United States and other industrial economies.
To address the threat to the trade secrets of US businesses, earlier this year Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) introduced the “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015” (S. 1890) in the United States Senate, while Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced an identical version of the same bill (H.R. 3326) in the United States House of Representatives. As we discussed here, if enacted, the Defend Trade Secrets Act would provide a civil cause of action in federal court to private litigants for “misappropriation of a trade secret that is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” In addition, the bill seeks to (1) create a uniform standard for trade secret misappropriation by expanding the Economic Espionage Act; (2) provide parties pathways to injunctive relief and monetary damages to preserve evidence, prevent disclosure, and account for economic harm to companies; and (3) create remedies for trade secret misappropriation similar to those in place for other forms of intellectual property.
Robert B. Milligan and Daniel Joshua Salinas
This upcoming Halloween reminds us that employers face their own terrors in trying to protect trade secrets and other valuable company information in the workplace, particularly if they have poor onboarding and departure protocols with their employees.
The following video illustrates some of the bad practices committed by both company personnel and employees that can “trick” companies into losing trade secrets or other confidential information or expose them to other liability.
Globally there are approximately 7,000 medicines in development to treat and cure a wide variety of diseases. Of these, more than 5,000 are in development in the United States. It’s difficult to argue that the strength and success of the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is uncorrelated with the IP protection available here. It is, therefore, disappointing that the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement fails to deliver sufficient IP protection for biologics. Much of the continuing controversy plaguing the TPP Agreement surrounds data exclusivity protection for biologic medicines and the future of the agreement may hinge on precisely this issue.