What Do DNA in the Amanda Knox Murder Case, High Frequency Trading at Goldman Sachs, & A Seismic Treasure Map Have in Common?

…throw in a Halloween cookie recipe, computer codes, and beer — and it should be really obvious what they all have in common! Right? Right!

For your reference, here’s a roundup of updates on a broad range of fascinating trade secret-related matters, by attorneys writing on JD Supra:

The Role of Alleged Trade Secret Forensic Evidence in the Amanda Knox Murder Case (Eulonda Skyles of Orrick):

“Last week, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Adam Smith, both Washington Democrats, convened a Congressional briefing to discuss the ongoing murder case against Amanda Knox, the 26-year-old University of Washington foreign exchange student who was convicted in Italy of brutally murdering her 21-year-old British roommate, Meredith Kercher. The highly publicized and polarizing story of Kercher’s gruesome murder is stomach-churning and heartbreaking, especially for trade secret lawyers who are more accustomed to discussing source code and customer lists. Yet there is a trade secret component to this case. Boise State University, the employer of one of Knox’s consulting technical experts, is holding back relevant DNA analysis research on the grounds that it is a trade secret.” Read on>>

Cookie Maker Gets Early Treat When Court Protects Halloween Cookie Recipe As A Trade Secret (Daniel Corbett of Orrick):

“In September 1995, Philadelphia-area cookie manufacturer Sweetzel, Inc. got an early Halloween treat when the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the company’s cookie recipes and customer lists constituted trade secrets, and granted an injunction against Sweetzel’s competitor.  The dispute centered on Sweetzel’s ‘Spiced Wafers,’ which are sold on a limited basis during the Halloween season and have been celebrated as a local food tradition that traces its roots to colonial times.” Read on>>

Seismic Map Is At The Center Of Trade Secret Case (Charles Sartain and Brooke Sizer of Looper Reed & McGraw):

“Did the Treasure Map lose its trade secret status in light of Ricochet’s failure to require confidentiality agreements and by showing the map to potential investors? Lamont claims that he owed no duty to Ricochet after the effective date of his resignation. No. The map did not lose its status as a trade secret. In Texas, employees are forbidden from using trade secrets acquired during employment, and this obligation survives termination. Furthermore, disclosure of a trade secret is not destroyed by limited communication and furtherance of the owner’s economic interests, such as showing protected items to prospective buyers or customers.” Read on>>

Implementing a Trade Secrets Protection Program (Michael Greco of Fisher & Phillips):

“The day is past when trade secrets can be adequately protected merely by requiring employees to execute confidentiality agreements, non-solicitation agreements and covenants not to compete. […] In today’s increasingly complex electronic world, effective protection against hi-tech theft must include proactive and reactive weapons. Without them, companies may have little chance of protecting the information upon which their business depends.” Read on>>

California Appellate Court Reaffirms the Trade Secret Displacement (Preemption) Doctrine (Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard):

“Courts continue to define the scope of the emerging trade secret displacement doctrine, (commonly referred to as preemption) which stems from California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”).  The UTSA contains a relatively conflicting provision that explicitly provides contractual and other claims ‘that are not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret’ are not displaced.  However, the UTSA also implicitly precludes claims based on trade secret misappropriation.” Read on>>

Aleynikov Turns the Tables on Goldman Sachs Group (Kenneth Vanko of Clingen Callow & McLean):

“Aleynikov was convicted by a federal district court of violating the Economic Espionage Act related to his alleged theft of Goldman’s trade secret high-frequency trading source code. The Second Circuit reversed that conviction – after Aleynikov spent many months in federal prison before the reversal – leading to a quick modification of the federal statute.” Read on>>

Goldman Ordered to Advance Defense Fees for Former Employee Accused of Stealing Computer Codes (Kristie Abel and Angelo Savino of Cozen O’Connor):

“The issue of whether to pay the legal expenses and fees of an employee accused of wrongdoing is an ever more important concern due to the recent wave of white collar prosecutions. In Aleynikov, Goldman faces advancing defense fees for someone it has accused of misappropriating its trade secrets. The Aleynikov case demonstrates the liberality with which courts may interpret advancement provisions in corporate bylaws governed by Delaware law.” Read on>>

Inevitable Disclosure Theory Not Available as a “Stand-Alone” Claim (Kenneth Vanko of Clingen Callow & McLean):

“Ever since the Seventh Circuit decided PepsiCo v. Redmond in 1995, there has been an almost insatiable desire for plaintiff’s attorneys to apply the ‘inevitable disclosure’ doctrine to claims of trade secret theft. As I’ve written before, the doctrine serves as a proxy for actual misappropriation and is based on the idea that despite one’s best intentions he cannot serve in a particular employment position without relying on specific trade secret knowledge gleaned elsewhere.” Read on>>

Oktoberfest Edition! Beer And Trade Secrets (Thomas Gray and Scott Lonardo of Orrick):

“In this ongoing suit, Anheuser-Busch has accused a former employee of using trade secret ‘beer specification’ documents to generate a series of consumer class actions charging Anheuser-Busch with watering down and misrepresenting the alcohol content of its beer.  According to Anheuser-Busch, one month before the employee resigned, the employee accessed a confidential beer specification document and then, minutes later, accessed a website called “www.topclassactions.com” to download, print, and save a class action complaint.” Read on>>

Protecting Trade Secrets In Russia (Olga Anisimova of Orrick):

“The primary laws governing Russian trade secrets are the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection and the Trade Secret Law. The Civil Code, the Labor Code, the Criminal Code, and the Code of Administrative Offenses provide additional statutory protection for trade secrets. […] To protect information from unauthorized disclosure, the owner needs to institute a trade secrecy system by following certain statutory procedures that are more stringent than the ‘reasonable efforts to preserve secrecy’ that U.S. practitioners may be used to under U.S. law.” Read on>>

Keeping Secrets: Trade Secrets and Confidentiality Agreements (Richard Stobbe of Field Law):

“Non-disclosure agreements are designed to impose confidentiality obligations on one or more parties to a transaction.  Confidential or ‘trade secret’ information may be disclosed during early-stage negotiations, even before a formal contractual relationship is concluded.  Or it may be disclosed in the course of an ongoing contract: for example, a licensing or manufacturing agreement.” Read on>>

Pulling Back the Veil: Top 10 Disclosed Trade Secret Settlements (Monte Cooper, Scott Lindlaw, and Cam Phan of Orrick):

“Litigation settlements can often be shrouded in secrecy, and trade secret litigation settlements are no different.  Parties are often sworn to confidentiality, and court dockets are typically silent on the amount of settlements (or even on their existence).  Undaunted, Trade Secrets Watch tried to pull back the curtain, hunting for the biggest trade secrets settlements we could find.” Read on>>

Recommendations for Avoiding Trade Secret Misappropriation (Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear):

“When hiring new employees, send a letter to their former employer giving them notice of the employee’s occupation and position.  Be forthright with their job title and description, and inform the former employer that you have a structure in place so that any trade secrets of the former employer will not be disclosed by their former employee.” Read on>>

It’s Critical to Protect Your Proprietary Information (Kathy Lindauer of Winstead):

“One of a number of ways to protect your company’s proprietary information is by requiring all employees, including founders, and all independent contractors, including consultants, to sign a Non-Disclosure or Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA). This does not apply only to staff involved in creating and using the proprietary information; rather, it applies to all employees and consultants/contractors who have access to proprietary information. In addition to source code, formulas, mask works, designs and techniques, proprietary information can include budgets, customer lists, marketing plans and other information.” Read on>>

Find additional updates on Trade Secrets at JD Supra Law News>>