BLOGS: Trade Secrets Blog

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 9/17/2013 07:44:00 AM

Trade Secrets of the Assault Rifles

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal of Florida, a Florida contribution to the evolving role of trade secrets, concerning old-fashioned stealing, a vendetta against a former employee, and, of course, assault weapons.


The paper reports that two men -- Mark Hazelip and Jake Economou – were arrested and charged with stealing trade secrets from Tactical Machining of Deland, Florida, a company that produces upper and lower receivers for AR-15 rifles.

The two alleged stole computer programs, blueprints, drawings and a list of customers. Hazelip quit the company in January and went to work for a competitor, Daytona CNC . Economou was later fired from Tactical Machining. According to investigators, Hazelip talked of putting Tactical Machining out of business/

Instead, after a tip from another former employee working at Daytona CNC, the police “executed a search warrant at Daytona CNC and found the Tactical Machining blueprints and drawings for the gun parts and a spiral bound notebook with the name of clients in Hazelip's desk.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 9/10/2013 08:44:00 AM

Uncle Sam’s Economic Espionage – Not Looking for Your Trade Secrets

From India’s Business Standard, a report on the comforting information, I guess, that the NSA’s collection of information from private companies is not looking for trade secrets, but only following terror money as it moves around the world.

This follows on the heels of reports that the NSA has hacked into the systems of various foreign companies including a Brazilian state oil company.


The report quotes James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence:
“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of, or give intelligence we collect, to US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”
This issue, obviously, is far from settled.

Friday, August 23, 2013, 8/23/2013 08:14:00 AM

John Deere in Trade Secrets Dispute with Former Factory General Manager

From the Business Section of the Waterloo Cedar Falls (IA) Courier, a story concerning a trade secrets case by agricultural equipment maker Deere & Co. against the long-time general manager of its largest combine factory.


Deere is seeking injunctive relief against Eric Hansotia, who was hired by Deere competitor AGCO into a position that "significantly overlaps" his old job.

The case is pending in federal court in Illinois.

By the sound of the allegations, the case concerns both inevitable disclosure type claims, but also has claims that the defendant “In his last four days of work . . . connected portable electronic storage devices, some of which computer logs indicate contained Deere trade secrets, to his Deere computer, and he may have kept those devices after his employment ended.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 5/22/2013 12:03:00 PM

Chinese Trade Secrets Theft Hits US Universities

Chinese trade secrets theft, although extensive, has generally focused on US businesses.


Now, in a new twist, Reuters reports that three Chinese researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have been charged in federal court with bribery in connection with theft of trade secrets relating to MRI technology.

The researchers apparently received at least $400,000 in bribes to provide information to a Chinese Medical Imaging company, United Imaging Healthcare, and a Chinese government-backed research institute, Shenzen Institute of Advanced Technology.

The three were charged in federal court in the Southern District of New York where the US Attorney doesn’t play.

Monday, April 22, 2013, 4/22/2013 12:18:00 PM

Man Bites Dog!

From the Morning Whistle, an unsourced report that publisher and education company Pearson has been sued for stealing the trade secrets of a Chinese competitor, CentriPoint (China).

According to the report, Pearson VUE, Pearson’s computer-based testing division, acquired Certiport on May 15, 2012, but decided to suspend the online service of Certiport (China).

That company now claims that Pearson stole its client list under the pretense of an audit and informed customers of the change without prior consent of the other shareholders of Certiport (China).

An initial court date is scheduled for May 23, 2013.

Sunday, February 24, 2013, 2/24/2013 11:52:00 AM

Trade Secrets Finally Gets Toward the Top of the National Agenda


You know trade secrets has finally hit it big when the subject is covered in USA Today and the report is on the Obama Administration’s a new strategy to combat the theft of American trade secrets.


The administration has released its 141-page Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets. This comes just after the president signed an executive order “designed to help U.S. computer networks guard against cyberattacks,” as USA Today put it.

The story contains comments from Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement coordinator.

In the words of USA Today:

“The strategy includes diplomatic engagement with nations where incidents of trade secret theft are high, working with industries on the best ways to protect their secrets, and stepped up prosecutions of business espionage.”

The plan comes out at the same time as reports of Chinese Red Army hacking into U.S. computers.

Espinel says: "The administration will continue to act vigorously to combat the theft of American trade secrets that could be used by foreign companies or foreign governments to gain an unfair commercial advantage over U.S. companies."

Sounds like we’re finally getting serious about a problem that has been allowed to grow for years.

Monday, January 28, 2013, 1/28/2013 02:47:00 PM

Bratz-Mattel Doll Fight Ends Not with a Bang But a Whimper

We’ve covered this case, it seems, this the beginning of time. (See, for example, an earlier summary here.)


Now it looks to be all over.

A précis goes like this: designer leaves Mattel to go to MGA Entertainment where he designs the popular Bratz line of dolls. Mattell sues MGS for copyright infringement and gets a $100 million verdict and the rights to Bratz going forward.


The Ninth Circuit finds that amount excessive and sends the case back down to the trial court where the jury finds nothing for Mattel, but returns a $170 million verdict against Mattel on a counterclaim for theft of trade secrets, along with $137 million in attorneys’ fees.

Now the Ninth Circuit vacates that verdict, finding it time-barred. The attorneys’ fees, however, stick.

It’s time to find a cautionary tale here, but the case is so weird we may just need to chalk it up as a one-off.

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