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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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 1/23/2013 12:26:00 PM

A Video Overview of the Economic Espionage Act

From me (click the link), a short description of the recent changes in the EEA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 1/15/2013 01:57:00 PM

Do Computer Fraud & Abuse Act Prosecutions Sometimes Go Too Far?

Offered here without commentary, an article from Slate concerning the recent suicide of Aaron Swartz who was set to go on trial next month for violations of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act for unlocking a database of scholarly articles.

Prosecutors charging decisions – particularly the amount of prison time and penalties to be sought – are generally discretionary, rarely reviewable, and certainly subject to abuse (and not just under the CFAA).

There should be near unanimous agreement that what happened to Aaron is sad and, if an over-reaching prosecution played a role, something that ought to be rectified.

Thursday, January 03, 2013, 1/03/2013 08:00:00 AM

More on Economic Espionage Act Amendments

From IP 360, a story concerning the amendments to the Economic Espionage Act.

The story quotes John Marsh of Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP as saying that the two bills passed by Congress represent "a strong commitment by the federal government to broaden the protections of trade secrets."

The bill, once it’s signed by the President, will increase the maximum penalty for misappropriating trade secrets to benefit a foreign government from $500,000 to $5 million for individuals and also applies the law more broadly to the services industry.

The big question on tap for 2013: will Congress create a federal civil remedy for trade secrets theft as a cognate to the criminal statute represented by the EEA?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013, 1/02/2013 01:24:00 PM

Amendment to Economic Espionage Act

Don’t say Congress can’t get anything done. At the end of the session, they managed to pass Senate Bill 3642 which changes – slightly – the definition of what trade secrets are covered under the Act.

In the Aleynikov case that we reported about over the years, the defendant managed to walk because the trade secrets he stole were not “produced” for use in interstate commerce.

Under the new law, designed to reverse the earlier decision in Aleynikov, trade secrets used in or intended for use in interstate commerce are now included. The produced for requirement is gone.

Now say goodnight to the 112th Congress.

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