The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed that a state court’s finding of “willful and malicious injury” in connection with the misappropriation of trade secrets entitled the plaintiff, in the defendant’s subsequent bankruptcy proceeding, to summary judgment of nondischargeability on collateral estoppel grounds. In re Hill, Case No. 19-5861 (6th Cir. May 4, 2020) (Donald, J.).

Continue Reading Willfulness Allegation, Failure to Appear Lead to Nondischargeable Judgment

Addressing a variety of challenges to a judgment against defendants in a trade secret misappropriation action, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that the plaintiff had standing on the basis of lawful possession (as opposed to ownership) of the trade secret materials and that the damages awarded, including punitives, was supported by sufficient evidence. Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. v. Huber, Case Nos. 19-1722; -1752 (3d Cir. Apr. 30, 2020) (Jordan, J.).

Continue Reading Trade Secret Misappropriators Fail to Launch in Rocket Facility

Addressing a decision by California district court denying a motion to remand a trade secret case back to the California state court where it was originally filed, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the removal to federal court was improper and vacated the district court’s decision. Intellisoft Ltd. v. Acer America Corp., Case No. 19-1522 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 3, 2020) (Dyk, J.).

Continue Reading Trade Secret Claim Premised on Patent Inventorship Assertion Did Not Warrant Removal to Federal Court

In a case addressing the applicability of free speech as a defense to trade secret misappropriation, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas retracted its previous ruling, holding that communications with customers and suppliers did not involve a matter of public concern and were therefore not an exercise of free speech. Goldberg, et al. v. EMR (USA Holdings) Inc., et al., Case No. 05-18-00261-CV (Tex. App. Jan. 23, 2020) (Myers, J).

Continue Reading Texas Appeals Court Rules Private Communications with Customers Not Protected Free Speech

Addressing an emergency request for a writ of mandamus to compel discovery of electronically stored information, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit declined to set aside a district court’s denial of a request to create forensic images of all the defendant’s business and personal computers and cell phones. In re FCA US LLC, Case No. 19-1923 (6th Cir. 2019) (per curiam).

FCA filed trade-secret misappropriation and other claims against Patrea Bullock, a lawyer who formerly served as outside counsel to FCA. According to FCA, while serving as defense counsel, Bullock had access to extensive confidential and proprietary information belonging to FCA, including its “defense playbook.” After she resigned from her law firm, but before returning her computer, Bullock downloaded her files from the laptop onto several USB drives. Thereafter, she opened her own law firm representing plaintiffs against automobile manufacturers, including FCA. During discovery, Bullock produced 1,345 documents in response to FCA’s requests for the documents she had taken FCA, however, moved to compel a forensic image of all of Bullock’s business and personal laptops and cell phones so an expert could investigate what documents Bullock took.


Continue Reading Mandamus Denied: Need to Show Abuse of Discretion in Addition to Prejudice from Delay