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Recent Decisions and Developments

April 14, 2014 | Washington Superior Court, King County
Washington Trial Court Refuses to Invoke Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine
April 3, 2014 | US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Fourth Circuit temporarily lifts injunction against competing DuPont Kevlar™ manufacturer
March 12, 2014 | Supreme Court of the State of Wyoming
Wyoming Supreme Court Orders Reconsideration of Trade Secret Protection for Fracking Chemicals
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Commentary

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...