Sep. 30, 2016|By Geoffrey S. Kercsmar
On May 11, 2016 President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (the “DTSA”). The new law immediately brought trade secrets in line with three other types of intellectual property—patents, copyrights, and trademarks—in one major aspect. For the first time, the federal courts now have jurisdiction to address trade secret misappropriation. This jurisdiction is not exclusive or even guaranteed: state courts can still hear many trade secret claims, and federal jurisdiction is restricted to those trade secrets “used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” Nonetheless, Congress appears eager to help address concern about trade secret theft, and the DTSA should prove favorable for those businesses affected by this issue.
This is good news for businesses. Growing businesses often owe their success to a nonpublic competitive advantage—some sort of distinguishing feature that separates a company’s product from its competitors’. Companies aggressively protect these distinguishing aspects of their product. Most have heard that Coca-Cola’s recipe is locked in a guarded safe and only known by two people, or that KFC’s “secret spices” are mixed by two different factories to ensure secrecy. Unfortunately, for most businesses, this level of security is unrealistic.
May. 17, 2016|By Gregory B. Collins
On behalf of our clients, we have alleged that a competitor falsely advertises it products as “natural” when the product contains synthetic materials. Some attorneys have argued that because the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has not defined “natural,” a jury is not competent to determine whether a product is in fact natural. Under this erroneous reasoning, a company could advertise any product as “natural,” no matter how artificial its ingredients. On April 12, 2016, the FTC made clear that Kercsmar & Feltus’s position on “natural” is the law.
Dec. 30, 2015|By Sean J. O’Hara
As business becomes more technical and knowledge-based, employers are increasingly asking their employees to sign covenants not to compete so they may protect trade secrets and confidential business information from being used by former employees who go on to work for competitors. As a result, individuals and companies contemplating new jobs or business opportunities are often faced with determining whether a non-compete agreement prohibits the new job—or whether the restriction is even legally enforceable.