Employee Defections

Federal Judge Lucy Koh Reportedly Near Approving $415 Million Settlement of Tech Worker Antitrust Suit Against Huge Tech Companies

This case has always been a bit shocking and weird - California-based tech employees sued big tech companies such as Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel and others and accused them in a class-action lawsuit of arranging an "interconnected web" of agreements between 2005 and 2009 not to hire each other's workers with the illegal but secret plan having the effect of squelching any possibility of a destructive bidding war for talent amongst these employers. You'll recall that the plaintiffs were able to obtain in discovery troubling e-mails between Apple's Steve Jobs and…
March 3, 2015
Trade Secrets

Does a Trade Secret Plaintiff in North Carolina Have to Be the Owner of The Trade Secrets to Have Standing to Sue for Misappropriation?

An interesting motion was made in case pending in the North Carolina Business Court that alleged the defendants had stolen trade secrets of the plaintiff.  During the discovery phase of the suit, the defendants learned that the plaintiff was not the "owner" of the purported trade secrets - plaintiff had an exclusive license to use them from the entity that DID own the technology that constituted the trade secrets. North Carolina's Trade Secret Protection Act provides that "the owner of a trade secret shall have remedy by civil action for…
January 10, 2015
Employee DefectionsNoncompete Agreements

Jimmy John’s Employees Required to Sign Noncompete – A Legal Absurdity

When professional colleagues first sent me links to reports that Jimmy John's requires new employees to sign two-year noncompete agreements, I thought "The Onion is somehow behind this."  But, according to nationwide reports, this is not a joke. According to numerous reports, this is the how the covenant reads: "Employee covenants and agrees that, during his or her employment with the Employer and for a period of two (2) years after … he or she will not have any direct or indirect interest in or perform services for … any…
October 22, 2014
Noncompete Agreements

North Carolina Court of Appeals Permits Judicial Revision of Noncompete If Contract Permits It

North Carolina's "blue pencil" rule has historically restricted North Carolina trial courts faced with a noncompete agreement that is overbroad as written.  The traditional rule was that the court could only cross out any severable, unenforceable provisions and then determine if what was left after the "blue pencil" was used would still be enforceable. (more…)
August 6, 2014
Employee DefectionsTrade Secrets

$135 Million Settlement Payment from Eaton to Triumph in Now Legendary Mississippi (and ultimately North Carolina) Trade Secrets Row

Eaton Probably Wishes It Could Go Back in Time . . . . You knew this day would come - you just didn't know what the contents of the day would unveil.  Eaton Corp. has reportedly agreed to settle for $148 million ($135 million to Triumph Group and $13 million to the former Eaton engineers) what might ultimately prove to be the most screwed-up trade secrets misappropriation case in American jurisprudence. Eaton originally sued some of its former engineers and their new employer (then called Frisby but now called Triumph…
June 19, 2014
Trade Secrets

United States Indicts Five Chinese Members of China’s People’s Liberation Army for Cyber-theft of American Industrial Trade Secrets

I've been blogging about reports of alleged Chinese sponsorship of industrial espionage for as long as I've been blogging about this topic.  Not only during the last decade have there been numerous successful prosecutions of Chinese nationals who came to America and got caught either stealing or purchasing stolen technology of various industrial interests, but we had Congressional hearings regarding the Economic Espionage Act and its reach and effectiveness and even Congressional vetoes over Chinese technology companies getting access to the American marketplace.  NOW we turn another corner and learn…
May 20, 2014