Bolsinger is still pitching! After a recent dismissal for lack of jurisdiction in California, former Major League Baseball pitcher Michael Bolsinger refiled claims against the Houston Astros in state court in Houston, Texas on May 13, 2021. While asserting similar factual allegations as his original California complaint, the former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher has abandoned his previous unfair business practice causes of action in favor of claims for trade secret misappropriation under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act and for conversion. Bolsinger claims that the pitching signs he used during his August 4, 2017 game against the Astros were trade secrets.
We begin the first in a series of case studies of the Trade Secrets Laws of the Middle East and North Africa (“MENA”) with a review of the trade secrets law of the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”).
The UAE affords broad protection of trade secrets through multiple avenues, including its civil, labor and patent laws. However, the lack of a specific and comprehensive trade secrets law means that scope and enforceability of these rights is somewhat uncertain. Thus, while the UAE does afford trade secret protection and remedies, the best form of trade secret protection for companies doing business in the UAE is through contracts with employees and third parties, which are generally enforceable. Continue Reading MENA Trade Secrets Law Review: United Arab Emirates
As predicted, the trade secrets battle between Olaplex, Inc. and L’Oreal continues – and L’Oreal has scored a fresh victory. On May 6, 2021, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a $66 million judgment against L’Oreal and ordered a new trial – but only on one of Olaplex’s patent claims. The panel stated that Olaplex had entirely failed to show that its information was eligible for trade-secret protection, and that no reasonable jury could find otherwise. Continue Reading Partial Victory for L’Oreal In Hair Coloring Fight
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently found that trade secret misappropriation by employees who then use the trade secrets to compete is actionable under Massachusetts’ Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Law. The SJC’s ruling in Governo Law Firm v. Bergeron means that Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Statute, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A Section 11 (“Chapter 93A”), now applies to trade secret disputes in the employer-employer context. Previously, such cases were considered an “internal matter” and therefore not actionable. Continue Reading Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules that Employees May be Held Liable to Their Employer Under Massachusetts’ Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Law
Changing Patent Protections
U.S. and foreign patent systems have suffered legislative and judicial reverses as
to subject matter eligibility for patenting, a rising bar of obviousness due to increasing skill of the art, insights aided by artificial intelligence (AI) tools, procedural artifacts for no-risk post grant invalidation by granting agencies, and awakening of once dormant antitrust and public policy limits. Although patents must be pursued when copying is inevitable, trade secrets can provide an important strategic complement when trying to protect intellectual property rights.
Growth of Trade Secrets
Trade secret law has continued to evolve over the decades. All states – except, notably, New York – have adopted laws modeled on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) which codify basic trade secret law principles, preserve differences from patent law, and standardize certain key definitions. In 2016, Congress passed the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) which created a federal private right of action for trade secret misappropriation under the Economic Espionage Act.
This article was published by the AIPLA’s Biotech Buzz Trade Secret Subcommittee. To read the full article, click here.
First off, don’t worry, Coca-Cola’s super-secret trade secret recipe is still safe. But on April 22, 2021, a jury in the Eastern District of Tennessee convicted a former Coca-Cola employee, Dr. Xiaorong (a/k/a Shannon) You, of stealing trade secrets related to BPA-free coatings for the inside of beverage cans for the Chinese Government. The Indictment alleged that the trade secret information cost almost $120 million to develop. The twelve-day in-person trial focused not just on the former employee’s wrong doing, but also on some the best practices Coca-Cola and Eastman Chemical Company used to protect the trade secrets at issue.
On April 20th, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. introduced Senate bill S. 1245, “The Combating Chinese Purloining (CCP) of Trade Secrets Act.” The full text of the bill is not yet available, but a press release announcing the legislation highlighted key features of the CCP, including:
- increasing the maximum penalty from 5 to 20 years of imprisonment for individuals who use “communication interception devices” to aid a foreign government;
- expanding trade secret misappropriation penalties for foreign persons, including by: the U.S. Customs and Border Protection imposing import restrictions, the U.S. Department of Commerce denying export licenses, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejecting applications for patent protection, and the U.S. Department of State denying visas;
- creating grounds for inadmissibility and deportability for individuals that seek to enter, or remain in, the U.S. to engage in espionage and intellectual property theft; and
- prohibiting the issuance of visas to Chinese nationals who present a national security risk and to prevent their pursuit of graduate-level coursework in sensitive fields.
Defendants may be entitled to review proprietary software code used in the prosecution’s expert probabilistic DNA analysis, according to a New Jersey appeals court in New Jersey v. Pickett.
In 2017, defendant Corey Pickett and an accomplice were arrested and charged with first degree murder after they allegedly fired weapons into a crowd, wounding one victim and killing another. In the course of the arrest, the police discovered a revolver and a ski mask. Finding the samples inappropriate for traditional DNA analysis, swabs from the revolver and ski mask were sent to Cybergenetics Corp.’s Laboratory to use its TrueAllele software to run probabilistic genotyping analysis on the samples. The TrueAllele software determined that Pickett was the source of the DNA on the revolver and ski mask.
The reverse engineering of the mRNA sequence for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine … a good example
Recently, the reverse engineering of trade secrets made headline news when it became known that Stanford scientists had published a previously unknown mRNA sequence for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, reverse engineered from droplets left in used vials.
Recent confirmations of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ’s”) senior leadership and enforcement actions coupled with the continued tough stance that the Biden administration is taking towards China signal that the DOJ’s China Initiative will likely remain a strategic priority. Announced in 2018, the China Initiative, led by the DOJ’s National Security Division, seeks to counter national security threats presented by the government of China by investigating and prosecuting economic espionage, trade secret theft, hacking, and other economic crimes. The China Initiative also focuses on protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure against external threats through foreign direct investment and supply chain compromises, as well as combatting covert efforts to influence the American public and policymakers without proper transparency. According to DOJ, “[a]bout 80 percent of all economic espionage prosecutions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) allege conduct that would benefit the Chinese state, and there is at least some nexus to China in around 60 percent of all trade secret theft cases.”