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Recent Decisions and Developments

February 18, 2020 | Northern District Court of Illinois Eastern Division
Motorola Solutions v. Hytera Communications Corp.
October 9, 2019 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Attempted Theft of Trade Secrets Upheld Even if Not Trade Secrets Stolen
February 25, 2019 | United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Employer Granted Injunctive Relief Against Former Employee After Searching Facebook
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The Trade Secrets Institute website includes a database of judicial decisions, filings, pleadings, briefs, and statutes. The decisions and briefs can be searched in a number of ways: by document type, trade secrets subject matter, trade secrets issue, or by jurisdiction. Start your search.


by Eve Chowdhury '20

On February 12, 2020, a superseding indictment was returned yesterday in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York, charging defendants Huawei Technologies (Huawei), the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, Futurewei Technologies and Skycom Tech, two of Huawei's U.S. subsidiaries, and Wanzhou Meng (Meng), a board director, with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The 16-count superseding indictment also adds a charge of conspiracy to steal trade secrets stemming from Huawei’s alleged long-running practice of using fraud and deception to...

by Amanda Hartman '20

Over the course of 2019, states have enacted legislation limiting the enforceability of non-compete agreements in order to keep employers in check from overreaching and to avoid a chilling effect on employee movement. Notably, states such as Washington have focused on discouraging employers from bringing lawsuits merely to control the movement and activity of employees and not for the purposes of protecting legitimate trade secrets and business interests. Read on for a roundup of 2019 state legislative activity in the realm of non-competition law.


by Paul Fraulo

Recently there have been many articles discussing the choice between protecting technology as a trade secret as opposed to seeking a patent. While patent law arguably provides stronger protection for an invention, one of the major advantages of protecting technology as a Trade Secret is that it does not have to meet the strict requirements of patentability that companies face in the patent process, such as novelty and non-obviousness. Recently though, the patent...

Part 1: Proposed Federal Trade Secrets Law
by Alexander Goldman '14

Congress is considering a Federal trade secrets law to solve a very specific problem: the possibility that an employee of a U.S. company will be at an airport with a thumb drive full of trade secrets before the company can act. This first session of the Trade Secrets Symposium at Brooklyn Law School was moderated by Trade Secrets Fellow Paul Fraulo '15.

Ted Schroeder, Chief Counselor to U.S. Senator Coons (D-DE), told the symposium to take a close look at the...

by Alexander Goldman

In a case that may just be the first of many, the United States filed charges against five men who are accused of conducting cyber espionage attacks for the government of China against targets in the United States. Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pennsylvania on 31 counts of espionage for activities over the nine years from 2006 to 2014 (inclusive). The defendants were officers in the notorious Unit 61398 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The U.S. government named six...

A few weeks ago we introduced the idea of the trade secrets troll, loosely defined as a company or individual that invokes trade secret protection to avoid public disclosure of unfavorable information, while claiming that such protection is needed to protect the information from competitors. A recent news story suggests that every day may bring a new trade secrets troll, the latest in West Virginia.

by Glenn Schieck, Alexander Goldman, and Tom Bengera

Summary: We have identified several cases in which trade secrets law is being invoked for no competitive purpose. It is being used to protect information that, if known, would lower the value of the product to consumers. In light of this trend, it may be time to reexamine the requirements of what constitutes a trade secret worthy of judicial protection. If trade secret trolls can use the protection of this law not to protect innovation, but to withhold unpopular information from the public, the law is being used for a purpose that is not justified, and we all seem to lose. The bulk of trade secrets law is state law. We hope that courts will act to identify and to...

By Robert A. Levine, '13

In a recently filed case, the popular clothing brand J. Crew Group, Inc, accused an ex-designer of stealing confidential information his new job at Bonobos, a competing clothing line. J. Crew claims its “confidential and proprietary information [includes] product designs, . . . productions schedules, manufacturing resources, and other information concerning [its] business operations,” such as budgets and marketing strategies. At first glance, this would appear to be a typical case of an employee leaving one company for its competitor (and taking the former’s trade secrets with it). Indeed, Law360’s headline for the case reads, “...

By Robert A. Levine, '13

When one network attempts to rip-off another network’s program, the aggrieved party may turn to its legal counsel to see if there are any claims against the perceived “copycat” show and its producers. While a written expression of ideas such as scripts are copyrightable intellectual property, see 17 U.S.C. § 101 (2010), some entertainment industry executives and lawyers argue there is a “gap” in protection in regards to “entertainment formats,” and specifically in the context of reality television programming. See generally Edwin Komen, Are Formats the Floormats Of Copyright?, Law360 (Jul. 10, 2012),...

By Lillian Tan ’12

Trade secret protection, normally left to the jurisdiction of states, has become a growing concern of the federal government. Over the last several months, the federal government’s prosecution of trade secrets theft under the Economic Espionage Act (“EEA) (18 U.S.C. §1831 et. seq.) spiked, and it has found other means of enforcement such as Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) (18 U.S.C. §1030 et seq.) and even Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1337(a)(1)(A)).

In the last three years alone, U.S. Attorneys have used the EEA in a number of trade secrets theft cases. Two cases, United States v. Yang and United...