Trade Secret Litigation & Counseling
In an age where most employees have a direct, web-based connection to their employers’ servers and databases, valuable trade secrets that took years to develop can be stolen in a few fleeting moments by hackers or misappropriated by departing employees. The resulting impact on a business may be significant and last for several years. Kronenberger Rosenfeld represents parties in trade secret disputes involving stolen information, including information once lawfully possessed by a former employee or vendor.
Whether you are the owner of trade secrets or accused of misusing them, we can help protect your rights.
A trade secret is information that derives actual or potential value from not being known to the public and that is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. A trade secret can consist of formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques, or processes. In fact, trade secret protection can cover everything from microchip design, to religious practices, to customer lists. Some of the most famous examples of trade secrets include the formula for Coca-Cola and the algorithms behind Google’s search engine. However, information does not need to be famous for it to warrant trade secret protection. In fact, many valuable trade secrets are valuable precisely because the public does not know about them. Also, trade secrets that are stored in the memories of employees or former employees can still be protected in court.
In 2016 the Defense of Trade Secrets Act was enacted into law (18 U.S.C. § 1836), which provides broad relief for trade secrets owners in federal court. Additionally, every state allows an owner of a trade secret to seek legal relief when that trade secret has been disclosed or used without authorization. In fact, nearly every state has adopted a version of the Uniform Trade Secret Act, which was originally published by the Uniform Law Commission in 1979. This act sets forth specific requirements and procedures that are unique to trade secret claims.
Because trade secret cases are a particularized area of intellectual property law, attorneys who deal with trade secrets must be familiar with the procedural and substantive nuances of misappropriation claims. As an example, it is crucial to any misappropriation claim under state law that the plaintiff, at an initial stage of the lawsuit, identifies the information claimed to have been misappropriated with reasonable particularity.
Kronenberger Rosenfeld regularly represents both plaintiffs and defendants in trade secret litigation. Our trade secret cases have covered matters ranging from banking data, to hardwood manufacturing techniques, to teaching methods, to customer lists. If you have a trade secret matter, contact us at (415) 955-1155, ext. 120, or submit your matter using our online case submission form.
- Represented a medical records imaging technology company in a lawsuit against an unknown person who hacked into the client’s network. Upon discovering that the hacker was a competitor and that the competitor had stolen the client’s trade secrets and used them to compete with the client, our firm amended the John Doe complaint to name the competitor as a defendant, leading to a complete victory in the case and the criminal indictment of the defendant competitor.
- Represented a large South American financial institution whose proprietary documents were anonymously posted online by a suspected disgruntled employee. Our firm obtained a temporary restraining order and conducted early discovery through the California court system, which enabled the client to identify the perpetrators.
- Represented an international nonprofit organization in a lawsuit involving the theft of its trade secrets and the dissemination of those trade secrets by the defendants anonymously via multiple blogs.
- Represented defendants in a trade secrets lawsuit brought by their former employer, a reseller of computer hardware and software. The defendants left the employ of the plaintiff and proceeded to compete directly with plaintiff, including with plaintiff's customers. The plaintiff alleged that defendants used trade secret information in soliciting the exact customers with which defendants worked while employed by plaintiff. After a 30-day jury trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict that the defendants did not misappropriate any trade secrets of the plaintiff.
- Represented a major provider of business formation services as the plaintiff in a lawsuit against a competitor for misappropriation of trade secrets. The competitor had hired a former employee of the plaintiff and used that employee’s knowledge to learn details about the client’s confidential affiliate compensation model. Our firm prevailed on behalf of the client through a publicly-filed stipulated judgment.
- Represented the nation’s top retailer of ink and toner products in a lawsuit against a former employee who took trade secrets and disclosed them to her new employer who was a direct competitor of our client.
- Defended an ex-employee of an affiliate marketing ad network accused of misappropriating the trade secrets of his former employer.
- Represented a leading online flooring manufacturer and retailer in a lawsuit alleging trade secret claims against a group of former employees who misappropriated the client’s proprietary floor manufacturing processes and started a competing venture.
- Represented a major advertising network in a trade secret dispute with several former employees who formed competing network using the client’s trade secrets. Our firm resolved the case in the client’s favor through the entry of a consent judgment.