traverselegal - July 3, 2014 - Trade Secrets
Good morning. I am Michael Masri. I am a litigation partner at the law firm of Melcher, Lippe, Goldstein and Breitstone. I’m here to present a continuing legal education discussion concerning the theft of trade secrets. Now, in this electronic day and age, the rules of the game have changed in the most extreme way possible. For instance, before everyone was widely using computers, it was very common for an employee to maybe make a copy of some files, maybe tell some other colleagues that he’s leaving, some customers that he was going to go, but the advent of computers, the increased use to cellular telephones, the increased use of social media and other real substantial changes in the way people have done business have completely changed the playing field.
Today, I’m going to speak about trade secret litigation in general, the impact and use of computers, three generations of computer users and how those specific computer users use computers in a different way to unfairly compete. I’m going to talk about 3 fact scenarios, again paralleling the experiences of the three different generations of computer users, and then I am talk to, with respect to, the approach concerning what an attorney could potentially do, the implementation of a litigation hold and court intervention.
If any of the viewers that are participating in the live presentation have any questions regarding this matter or a particular area that you’d like me to focus on, please let me know.
Before I get to the meat of the course, let me just briefly describe my background and how I myself became involved in this very, very, very, very critical aspect of litigation practice. Approximately fifteen years ago, someone served my office with the litigation hold letter. Being that I knew something about computers and being that I was one of the junior most attorneys at the firm at that time, it was incumbent on me to get up to speed. Since that time, I have litigated over and over and over again various trade secret issues, and in that regard, it has become increasingly critical for me to understand how people use computers and how things evolve and change, which quite frankly is constant. And that’s is something that a practitioner always has to be aware of. For instance, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in the commentaries, specifically provide that the normal operation of computer … the normal operation of computers always deletes electronic data stored on that computer. So counsel can no longer say, “I didn’t know. I left it up to my client” because counsel themselves are on notice. And if counsel is not proactive, the fees and issues become a lot more complicated than they need to be, and it’s been my practice on based on my experience to try to reach out to counsel when I know that there’s a litigation or litigations about to commence really for the purpose of trying to meet and confer, again in compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and there are state equivalents. But to reach out to counsel to try to meet and confer really for the purpose of making sure that everybody’s on the same page and that nobody is forced to defend a position that they should not have taken in the first place.
Having your trade secrets stolen due to the continuing advances of technology is something that no employer wants to deal with. Competition in almost every single market seems to be at an all-time high. However, being prepared to properly protect your secrets before hiring employees, during employment of employees and even after employees leave your company is extremely crucial in keeping your trade secret safe from theft. It is also very important to have highly knowledgeable and experienced attorneys to assist you in every step of this process. The trade secret attorneys at Traverse Legal have the skills and knowledge to help you at any or all of these phases. Contact one of our trade secret attorneys to further discuss your sensitive trade secret issues.