Cases from United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
U.S. Government Files Charges Against Chinese Officials for Cybertheft of Trade Secrets

In the first time charges have ever been brought against a state actor for cyber-espionage including theft of trade secrets, the U.S. government has alleged that five Chinese Officials stole valuable information from a number of U.S. companies. The indictment, filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania, enumerates the alleged conduct, including: stealing confidential and proprietary technical and design specifications for pipes, pipe supports, and pipe routing for a Westinghouse Power Plant; stealing confidential information from SolarWorld regarding their cash flow, manufacturing metrics, production line, and costs; installing malware on U.S. Steel computers in an attempt to identify and exploit vulnerable servers; stealing network credentials for nearly every ATI employee; stealing e-mails from senior USW employees containing sensitive information about USW strategies related to pending trade disputes with China; and stealing emails from Alcoa pertaining to an agreement between Alcoa and a Chinese State Owned Enterprise.

Estimating the cost of cyber-espionage on the U.S. economy is quite tricky, but some economists have claimed the damages are on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Over the past year, the U.S. has made it clear that they will intensify their efforts to put an end to the theft. John Carlin, the Assistant A.G. for National Security, stated that “State actors engaged in cyber espionage for economic advantage are not immune from the law just because they hack under the shadow of their country’s flag.”

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
W.D. Pa. rules that the Penn. UTSA allows for attorneys’ fee awards in cases of specious misappropriation claims made in bad faith

Judge William Standish of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania held that Pennsylvania’s version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“PUTSA”) allows awards of attorneys’ fees in cases of specious misappropriation claims made in bad faith. A radiation therapy company, Best Medical International, Inc. (“Best Medical”) had brought a counterclaim against a former employee, Hill, who had initially sued Best Medical for failure to pay severance benefits. Best Medical later added three other former employees and competitor Accuray, Inc., and alleged that all had misappropriated its trade secrets. Eventually, the former employees and Accuray were granted summary judgment after prolonged settlement discussions in which it came to light that Best Medical could not identify the alleged trade secrets, did not properly investigate its claim before filing, and did not have any actual evidence of misappropriation. The former employees and Accuray proceeded to ask for attorneys’ fees. The issue had not yet been addressed under the PUTSA, but Judge Standish granted the request, as Best Medical’s behavior met numerous other states’ established standards of “objective speciousness” and “subjective bad faith.”