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Friday, June 29, 2012, 6/29/2012 01:21:00 PM

Snyder's and Almeling's "Keeping Secrets: A Practical Introduction to Trade Secret Law and Strategy"

By Todd
This will be my final post on Womble Trade Secrets - after 16 great years at Womble Carlyle, I am departing for a litigation boutique that will be called Graebe Hanna & Sullivan, PLLC.  Before advising you about a great new trade secret resource for all, I want to thank my friend and partner Press Millen for prompting me to co-author this blog with him back in 2006.  There have been literally hundreds of thousands of visitors to this blog and I've met scores of attorneys and business people who reported perusing and using the blog for information.  Thank you Press.

Our friends at O'Melveny & Myers, Darin Snyder and David Almeling, have written a practical and useful primer on trade secret law and the legal and practical treatment of trade secrets.  The book, published by Oxford University Press, is divided into three parts:  (a) the basics and some definitions useful in understanding trade secret law; (b) guidelines for creating a legal strategy for protecting trade secrets; and (c) practical guidance regarding business and legal responses to incidents of trade secret misappropriation or accusations of the same.

The anecdotes and breezy case studies in the book are rewarding - our favorite quote was from the founder of a company that designed underground mining vehicles and whose company was the victim of a key, respected employee's theft: "I was like the husband whose wife was getting it on the side."  Messrs. Snyder and Almeling have shared with us their homework and case studies - just great stuff.  We recommend this book to business litigators and non-specialists but it is great reading for those of us specializing in this area of law, as well.  You can find the link to the book here:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 6/19/2012 04:42:00 PM

Chicago Trade Secrets Case Blows Up on Plaintiff

Any case has the potential to blow up on the plaintiff. Trade secrets cases, though, may present even more possibilities in that regard.

Take the case of Portola Packaging against its rival Logoplaste (reported here behind Litigation Daily’s paywall) but also nicely summarized in the Trial Community’s Litigation News Blog.

Logoplaste, in 2007, discussed the prospect of buying Portola’s Canadian subsidiary. They exchanged some putatively confidential information but never got a signed NDA. Negotiations broke off in February 2008. Shortly thereafter, Logoplaste landed a key Portola client.

Fast forward more than a year. Portola finally demanded return of the confidential information and filed suit claiming Logoplaste used the documents to steal the customer.

An Illinois state court judge ultimately ruled that Portola failed to protect its information. So far, pretty normal.

Here’s where it gets weird. The judge also ruled that because Portola designated its general counsel as a key witness, his emails were not protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Those emails apparently showed that he had urged Portola to sue just to hurt Logoplaste’s business interests. And, he also apparently hired Logoplaste’s regular counsel in an unrelated matter in order to create a conflict.

According to the report, although Portola claimed that its confidential documents were used to lure an employee away, the emails indicated the general counsel knew the employee approached Logoplaste first.

The result: a scathing opinion and an order that Portola will pay all of Logoplaste’s attorneys’ fees for the three years of litigation.


Appeals, no doubt, to follow.
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