California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Trade Secrets

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November 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Company That Hired Competitor’s Employee Was Not Entitled To Arbitrate Claims Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment Employee’s Attorney’s “Pervasive Incivility” Justified … Continue Reading

Company That Hired Competitor’s Employee Was Not Entitled To Arbitrate Claims

Mattson Tech., Inc. v. Applied Materials, Inc., 2023 WL 7180167 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Canfeng Lai worked for many years at Applied Materials before submitting his resignation to begin a new job at Mattson Technology (one of Applied’s competitors). First, however, Lai allegedly emailed himself a number of files containing Applied’s trade secrets. In response, … Continue Reading

Trade Secrets Claim Against Company Not Severable From Claim Against Employee, Appeals Court Finds

A California semiconductor manufacturer cannot pursue in court its claims of trade secret misappropriation against a rival company while simultaneously arbitrating the same claims against the allegedly larcenous employee, a state appeals court recently found. In Mattson Technology, Inc. v. Applied Materials, Inc., a California Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred by … Continue Reading

November 2021 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2021 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Ninth Circuit Resurrects California’s Anti-Arbitration Statute In-House Counsel’s Claim For Breach Of Oral Promise Of Contingency Fee Was Barred By Statute Employee Can Proceed With … Continue Reading

Order Denying Attorney’s Fees Under UTSA Is Not Separately Appealable

Dr. V. Prods., Inc. v. Rey, 68 Cal. App. 5th 793 (2021) Dr. V. Productions sued its former employee, Samantha Rey, for misappropriation of trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, breach of fiduciary duty and related claims.  After “significant discovery,” Dr. V. voluntarily dismissed its misappropriation of trade secrets claim.  Rey then filed a … Continue Reading

November 2020 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2020 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Court Affirms $4.26 Million Jury Award For “Self-Published Defamation” Court Affirms Dismissal Of Trade Secrets Claim Brought Against Apple Employer Gets No Relief From $1.6 … Continue Reading

Court Affirms Dismissal Of Trade Secrets Claim Brought Against Apple

Hooked Media Group, Inc. v. Apple Inc., 55 Cal. App. 5th 323 (2020) Hooked Media, a startup company that Apple expressed interest in acquiring, sued Apple after Apple passed on the deal but three of Hooked’s most important employees (including two engineers and the Chief Technical Officer) left to work for Apple. Hooked sued for … Continue Reading

Litigant’s Attorney Is Entitled To Fees As “Prevailing Party” In UTSA Case

Aerotek, Inc. v. The Johnson Group Staffing Co., 2020 WL 5525180 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020) The law firm Porter Scott, P.C., defended its client The Johnson Group Staffing (TJG) through two rounds of litigation against claims asserted by TJG’s chief competitor Aerotek. In the litigation, Aerotek alleged that TJG (whose founder came from Aerotek) misappropriated … Continue Reading

January 2020 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted January 2020 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Church Affiliate Is Exempt From FEHA Liability, But Liable for $1.9 Million On Other Theories Disability Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Claims Were Properly Dismissed Employer That … Continue Reading

Court Properly Refused To Dissolve Injunction Involving Trade Secret Misappropriation

Global Protein Prods., Inc. v. Le, 42 Cal. App. 5th 352 (2019) Global Protein Products, Inc. (“GPP”) successfully sued its former employee Kevin K. Le for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and unfair competition and obtained a stipulated permanent injunction against him and his company from “acquiring, disclosing, using, or attempting or threatening … Continue Reading

Malicious Prosecution Action Against Former Employer’s Law Firm Was Properly Dismissed

Parrish v. Latham & Watkins LLP, 3 Cal. 5th 767 (2017) In a prior litigation, FLIR Systems, Inc. and Indigo Systems Corp. (collectively, “FLIR”) brought suit against their former employees, William Parrish and E. Timothy Fitzgibbons (the “Former Employees”), for, among other things, misappropriation of trade secrets. The Former Employees defeated those claims and then … Continue Reading

Terminated Employee Could Proceed With Tortious Interference Claims Against Apple

Popescu v. Apple Inc., 2016 WL 3578970 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) Dan Popescu sued Apple Inc. for damages after he was fired by his employer, Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC. Popescu alleged that Apple took affirmative steps to convince Constellium to fire him in retaliation for his resistance to Apple’s alleged anticompetitive conduct. The trial … Continue Reading

Former Employee Who Accessed Employer’s Computers Was Properly Imprisoned

United States v. Nosal, 2016 WL 3608752 (9th Cir. 2016) In this criminal proceeding brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), the United States government filed a criminal indictment against David Nosal (a former employee of Korn/Ferry International) as a result of his obtaining information from Korn/Ferry’s computer system for the purpose of … Continue Reading

Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims Should Not Have Been Dismissed

Richtek USA, Inc. v. uPI Semiconductor Corp., 242 Cal. App. 4th 651 (2015) Richtek sued three of its former employees (all residents of Taiwan) and the company they formed (uPI Semiconductor) for misappropriation of Richtek’s trade secrets. The trial court sustained the former employees’ demurrer to the complaint on the ground that the lawsuit was … Continue Reading

Federal Court Dismisses Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Claim That Was Filed Against Our Clients

Here’s a recent victory we obtained on behalf of our clients SunEdison, Inc., et al. The individual defendants (then-current employees of SunPower, Inc.) were alleged to have violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by connecting USB devices to SunPower’s computer system and allegedly copying data. U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick granted … Continue Reading

Employees Could Proceed with Malicious Prosecution Action Against Former Employer’s Counsel

Parrish v. Latham & Watkins LLP, 2014 WL 4220542 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) In a prior litigation, FLIR Systems, Inc., and Indigo Systems Corp. (collectively, “FLIR”) brought suit against their former employees, William Parrish and E. Timothy Fitzgibbons (the “Former Employees”), for, among other things, misappropriation of trade secrets.  The Former Employees defeated the claims … Continue Reading

Employee Was Bound By Stipulated Injunction That Prohibited His Solicitation Of Customers

Wanke, Indus., Commercial, Residential, Inc. v. Superior Court, 209 Cal. App. 4th 1151 (2012) In an underlying lawsuit, Wanke sued its former employees Scott Keck and Jacob Bozarth for misappropriation of trade secrets, among other things. That lawsuit was settled, and the parties agreed to a stipulated injunction pursuant to which Keck, Bozarth and their … Continue Reading

Trade Secret Action Was Prosecuted In Bad Faith, $1.6 Million In Sanctions Upheld

FLIR Sys., Inc. v. Parrish, 174 Cal. App. 4th 1270 (2009) FLIR Systems purchased Indigo Systems, which manufactures and sells microbolometers (a device used in connection with infrared cameras, night vision and thermal imaging), for $185 million in 2004. William Parrish and Timothy Fitzgibbons were shareholders and officers of Indigo before the company was sold … Continue Reading

Attorney And Her Clients Were Properly Sanctioned For Conduct Relating To Disclosure Of Trade Secrets

Wallis v. PHL Associates, Inc., 168 Cal. App. 4th 882 (2008) The trial court imposed approximately $43,000 in sanctions against Hygieia Biological Laboratories, its principals and their attorney in this case involving alleged misappropriation of trade secrets. During the course of the litigation, the parties agreed to a protective order, which the trial court issued, … Continue Reading

Non-Compete Agreements Were Unenforceable

Asset Marketing Systems, Inc. v. Gagnon, 542 F.3d 748 (9th Cir. 2008) Kevin Gagnon, doing business as “Mister Computer,” alleged that his former customer, Asset Marketing Systems (“AMS”), infringed his copyright in six computer programs that he wrote for AMS by continuing to use and modify them without his consent and that AMS misappropriated trade … Continue Reading

Statute Of Limitations For Trade Secrets Claim Dates From Time Of Owner’s Knowledge

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. v. Superior Court, 163 Cal. App. 4th 575 (2008) The trade secret owner in this case, Silvaco Data Systems, develops and licenses electronic design automation software. In late 1998, a former Silvaco employee, working for Circuit Systems, Inc. (“CSI”), incorporated Silvaco’s “SmartSpice” trade secrets into CSI’s product, “DynaSpice.” Silvaco sued the employee … Continue Reading

Employee Is Entitled To Recover Attorney’s Fees In Breach Of Contract Action Filed By His Former Employer

Profit Concepts Mgmt., Inc. v. Griffith, 162 Cal. App. 4th 950 (2008) Profit Concepts sued Greg Griffith, a former employee, for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets in Orange County Superior Court. Griffith, who was an Oklahoma resident at the time, moved to quash service for lack of personal jurisdiction. (The contract contained … Continue Reading

Non-Compete Covenant Was Not Too Broad To Be Enforced

Alliant Ins. Services, Inc. v. Gaddy, 159 Cal. App. 4th 1292 (2008) Alliant Insurance Services purchased a competing insurance brokerage company from G. Scott Gaddy for $4.1 million and then employed him under a senior management agreement. Both the purchase and employment agreements contained covenants whereby Gaddy agreed not to compete with Alliant or to … Continue Reading

New Employer May Have Misappropriated Trade Secrets And Interfered With Prior Employer’s Business

San Jose Constr., Inc. v. S.B.C.C., Inc., 155 Cal. App. 4th 1528 (2007) Richard Foust was a project manager for San Jose Construction (“SJC”) for 4½ years before he became dissatisfied with his job and accepted a position at a higher salary with South Bay Construction (“South Bay”), one of SJC’s competitors. Foust believed that … Continue Reading
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