BLOGS: Trade Secrets Blog

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Friday, January 20, 2012, 1/20/2012 02:15:00 PM

Snooki Without Makeup - A Lost Trade Secret of "The Jersey Shore"

By Todd

It's Friday at Womble Trade Secrets and we're going to try a new argument on you before the weekend.

A trade secret is generally defined as information that (i) derives independent economic value from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and
(ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

Fans of MTV apparently love this show "The Jersey Shore." We've never seen it, but we are students of the law and do our research and we know that the particular looks of the actors on this show is part of its commercial allure and value. Perhaps the most infamous star on that show is Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. She prevails upon the shows fans with her ironic beauty - and allegedly her bad behavior. In one reported episode, she acknowledged this ironic allure while throwing a drink on a bouncer at a bar, as one witness reported: "While she threw the drink at him she yelled, 'I'm a f**king star, beautiful enough to do what I want.""

What does this have to do with trade secrets? Well, a picture of Snooki has been published WITHOUT HER MAKE-UP. She doesn't look like the made-up Snooki, with all that ironic, ahem, big-hair beauty. It made us recall the days when Gene Simmons and the other members of the rock-band KISS took off their make-up. They made a decision that the trade secret had run its course - and that it was valuable for their fans to see what they really looked like. But maybe, our thinking goes, the producers of "The Jersey Shore" don't want the fans to see what Snooki looks like without her caked-on tan, big eyelashes and mascara spray-painted to create the Snooki look that is known and loved.

Has she just sold MTV's trade secret down the river? We're not pre-judging this one but we'll let the pictures speak for themselves and let you decide. Happy Friday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012, 1/19/2012 08:08:00 AM

The Trade Secrets of . . . Helicopter-Aided Ski Companies?

By Todd

This just in from the Anchorage Daily News - heli-ski operators up in Haines, Alaska are apparently required to report to the public as follows: "Every commercial ski tour operator shall use global positioning system equipment capable of tracking and preserving information establishing the route taken by the helicopter to and from the skiing and snowboarding area and all landings."

Well, the heli-ski operators are apparently asking that the data be treated as their trade secrets and not subject to review by actual or would-be competitors as public records. One of the opponents of the proposed trade secret treatment of the heli-ski data suggested "Any competitor can go up and see where the helicopters are flying, where the ski tracks are. They do this in broad daylight … this does not need to be withheld from the public."

We'll report back how this one plays out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 1/17/2012 01:27:00 PM

29 Year Old Former Sanofi-Aventis Scientist Pleads Guilty to Economic Espionage

By Todd

The New Jersey Herald is reporting that a former research chemist in the New Jersey office of Sanofi-Aventis has pleaded guilty to one count of stealing trade secrets from her former employer.

Yuan Li of Somerset pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney's office says the 29-year-old Chinese national made the secrets available for sale through the U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese chemicals company called Abby Pharmatech in which Li was a partner.

Li worked from 2006 through 2011 at Sanofi's U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, researching potential future drugs.

She admitted to accessing, downloading and making available for sale on Abby's website internal Sanofi database information on compounds the company says were trade secrets.

Li will be sentenced on April 23rd.

Monday, January 16, 2012, 1/16/2012 05:00:00 PM

Ex-Dow Chemical Scientist Gets 5 Year Sentence For Trade Secret Theft

By Todd

Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that a five-year prison sentence against Wen Chyu Liu, also known as David W. Liou, was handed down yesterday by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Friday. A jury in February convicted Liu of perjury and conspiring to steal Dow trade secrets. He was indicted in 2005.

Liu, 75, of Houston worked for Dow from 1965 to 1992. At its Plaquemine, Louisiana, facility he had access to secrets related to the manufacture of chlorinated polyethylene or CPE, used in the making of vinyl siding, electrical cable jackets and industrial hoses, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement. Dow called the theft and sale of its intellectual property “a complete betrayal of the trust imparted to Mr. Liou as a Dow employee.”

Friday, January 13, 2012, 1/13/2012 09:45:00 AM

Motorola Succesfully Defends Lemko's Summary Judgment Motion in Pugilistic Legal Battle

By Todd is reporting that Chicago-based federal district court judge Matthew Kennelly rejected Lemko Corp.'s motion for summary judgment on Motorola's trade secrets claims, clearing the way for trial on Motorola's allegations that Lemko stole wireless networking technology and wrongly asserted ownership of a family of related patents.

Lemko's argument was that Motorola had not sufficiently identified the trade secrets allegedly misappropriated. You'll recall that Motorola and Lemko have been fighting an alley-like brawl over technology related to 4G technology. Judge Kennelly disagreed with Lemko's lack of specificity argument, concluding that Motorola "has referred to particular documents, files, inventions, and aspects of its technology, not simply general methods or areas of its business," as Lemko had asserted.

This case will be cleared for trial.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 1/11/2012 03:00:00 PM

New Jersey Joins 46 Other States and D.C. - Adopts UTSA

By Todd
PolitickerNJ is reporting that New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie has signed into law NJ's version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act ("UTSA"). The bill was sponsored by State Senator Nicholas P. Scuteri (D - Union).

“The success of so many companies in this state depends largely on their ability to keep information about their internal processes secure,” added Senator Scutari. “This law will go a long way toward protecting these businesses, and will place New Jersey on par with 46 other states and the District of Columbia in helping companies to guard their trade secrets.”

The New Jersey Senate approved the bill 39-0; the New Jersey Assembly approved the measure 79-0. The law takes effect immediately, except it does not apply to misappropriation that occurred prior to the effective date or to a continuing misappropriation that began prior to the effective date of the law and continued after the effective date of the law.

Welcome to the civilized trade secret protected world, New Jersey! Bravo.

Thursday, January 05, 2012, 1/05/2012 09:28:00 AM

Court Rules That Apple's Sealed Materials Can't Remain Sealed

By Todd

Ars Technica is reporting that a federal judge in the Northern District of California has denied, upon remand from the Ninth Circuit, Apple's motions to seal certain materials it filed in a successful trademark action against Apple-clone manufacturer Psystar.

You may recall that bloggers and others were able to discern the content of the redacted information in some of Apple's filings and Apple has now had to admit that the blogosphere contains accurate reportings of what had been redacted. Apple argued to the court that a company can't lose its trade secret rights just because the public has guessed correctly at the contents of the trade secrets. The court, disagreeing, referred to the public's work as reverse-engineering.

The judge's order makes an interesting read and the analysis is fairly persuasive. One wonders if Apple might try to appeal this new order.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 1/03/2012 09:50:00 AM

Gundlach-TCW Dispute Settled

By Todd

Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that the acrimonious and public litigation between the "Bond King" Jeffrey Gundlach and his former firm TCW has been settled. We've blogged about this case a number of times and you'll recall that the litigation and damages assessments had not concluded at the time of settlement.

TCW and the company founded by Gundlach, DoubleLine Capital LP, “jointly announce that they have settled all claims between and among themselves as well as DoubleLine Funds Trust, Jeffrey Gundlach, and other individuals,” TCW said yesterday in a statement. “The terms of the settlement are confidential and the parties will not discuss them.” DoubleLine separately issued a statement confirming the agreement.

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