Russell Beck to Chair Seminar on Noncompete Agreements

On February 6, 2013, Russell Beck will be chairing MCLE’s seminar titled “Noncompetes & Other Restrictive Covenants: Overview and update with practical drafting, enforcement, and defense tips.”

The panel for this week’s seminar includes Margaret A. Shukur, Esq., of Lionbridge Technologies, Inc., in Waltham, and Hon. Allan van Gestel (ret.) of JAMS in Boston.

Registration and more information is here.

This informative seminar will guide attorneys through the proper design and implementation of an enforceable trade secret, confidential information, and goodwill protection program.

The agenda for the seminar includes the following:

  • Recent developments in noncompete agreements and related restrictive covenants;
  • Trade Secret Audits;
  • Establishing a proper program for the protection of trade secrets, confidential information, and goodwill;
  • How to avoid common mistakes in drafting restrictive covenants; and
  • Best practices for enforcement of, and defense against enforcement of, restrictive covenants

About us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized; it includes:

  • Over sixteen years of working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (4th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2010), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete cases
  • Drafting and advising on the current bill pending before the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
  • Founding and administrating the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
  • Establishing and administrating the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,000 members around the world
  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2012 Chambers USA Guide, which identified Russell as one of its “Notable Practitioners,” stating, “The highly regarded Russell Beck of Beck Reed Riden LLP has an excellent reputation for his work on trade secret and noncompete issues.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

 

 

Russell Beck Chaired Intellectual Property Seminar

On November 7, 2012, Russell Beck chaired MCLE’s Intellectual Property seminar titled “Practical steps to protect your clients’ intellectual property.”

More information is available here.

This seminar guides attorneys through the basic issues in key areas of intellectual property. Although aimed at practitioners new to these areas, this program also provides enough depth to be of interest to those with experience.

The agenda for the seminar is as follows:

  • Copyright: The statutory framework; Copyright registrations; Computer software license agreements and the freelance programmer; Graphic arts agreements and the freelance artist; Website design and ownership; User-generated content; Bringing and defending an infringement case.
  • Trademark: The statutory framework; Selecting and evaluating a trademark—registration and infringement risk; Getting a federal registration; Foreign registration; Trademark licenses and assignments; Maintaining the value and strength of your trademarks; Bringing and defending an infringement case.
  • Trade Secret: The sources of trade secret law; The impact of restrictive covenants; Establishment of a proper trade secret protection program; Bringing and defending a misappropriation case.
  • Patent: The statutory framework; Patent novelty and clearance searches; Patent prosecution; Foreign patents; Patent licenses and assignments; Duty of candor; Patent misuse and its extensions; Bringing and defending a patent infringement case.
  • IP and Social Media: General intellectual property and proprietary rights considerations raised by social media; IP clearance in a social media environment; Challenges posed by user content; Protecting your IP at risk through social media
  • “Ask the Experts” Q&A Session.

About us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized; it includes:

  • Over sixteen years of working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (4th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2010), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete cases
  • Drafting and advising on the current bill pending before the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
  • Founding and administrating the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
  • Establishing and administrating the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,000 members around the world
  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2012 Chambers USA Guide, which identified Russell as one of its “Notable Practitioners,” stating, “The highly regarded Russell Beck of Beck Reed Riden LLP has an excellent reputation for his work on trade secret and noncompete issues.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Recent Court Decisions Instruct Companies How To Protect Trade Secrets

Two recent cases in Massachusetts, one at the federal and one at the state level, address a key issue in the analysis of trade secret claims: the steps employers can and should undertake in order to protect information for which they seek trade secret protection. Taken together, these cases provide valuable instruction to Massachusetts companies about best practices for handling trade secrets.

Looking for immediate advice about a pressing trade secret matter? Please contact us. General information about our trade secret practice group can be found here.

In M/K Systems, Inc. v. Glesmann, the plaintiff, a manufacturer of a device used to test the absorbency of various paper products, sued its former employee and the competingbusiness he founded for, among other claims, misappropriation of confidential and proprietary business information. The unreported March 4th, 2011 opinion from the Massachusetts Appeals Court found that, as a threshold matter, the information claimed by the plaintiff to be confidential and proprietary did not meet the secrecy requirement for trade secret protection under Massachusetts law.

Specifically, the court pointed to a number of steps M/K Systems did not undertake in order to protect the alleged confidential nature of the information. These steps included (a) entering into confidentiality agreements with customers, (b) entering into confidentiality agreements with vendors or third-party manufacturers, and (c) entering into noncompete agreements with employees. The court also noted that M/K Systems did not otherwise protect, mark, or otherwise indicate as confidential any information regarding its updated or altered design. Since the plaintiff did not take these steps in order to protect the secrecy of its information, the Appeals Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling against the company and in favor of the defendants.

While the former employer in M/K Systems, Inc. v. Glesmann was unable to convince the court that its business information was, in fact, a trade secret, the plaintiff in Optos, Inc. v. Topcon Medical Systems, Inc., fared much better. In a March 7, 2011 decision out of the District of Massachusetts, the federal court partially granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against a former employee and competitor of Optos, Inc., a retinal image device developer. In this case, Optos brought claims against its former employee and his new employer, including a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets, specifically customer lists.

In the court’s analysis of the plaintiff’s likelihood of success on the merits

of its claims, the court looked at the steps taken by Optos to secure the confidentiality of its customer lists in order to determine whether the information claimed was indeed secret. The court mentioned a number of factors that weighed in favor treating the customer lists as trade secrets. These factors included:

  • A requirement that employees sign confidentiality agreements;
  • The fact that Optos “password protected its computers and limited internal access to the information on the customer list”; and
  • Optos provided its employees with an Employee Handbook which explicitly stated that customer account information and customer lists were confidential.

The court found that, based on such actions, it was likely that Optos would be able to establish that it took reasonable steps to protect its customer list. As a consequence, the court ruled that it would prohibit defendants’ use or dissemination of Optos’ customer list, and bar defendants from soliciting customers identified in Optos’ customer list.

The lesson from both of these cases is clear: companies looking to protect their trade secrets should make sure that they are taking proactive measures to ensure that their trade secrets are, in fact, kept secret. Although courts do not require companies to take “heroic measures” to protect the secrecy of their information, companies that neglect to take reasonable steps to protect their trade secrets may find themselves unable to prevent former employees and competitors from using their information to gain a competitive advantage.

Companies that want to protect their trade secrets – like a client list, product design, financial information, computer program, marketing plan, or product research – should consider taking these practical steps to protect the confidentiality – and thus the trade secret status – of such information:

  1. Enter into confidentiality agreements with employees, customers, and any other third-parties who will become privy to the information.
  2. Enter into non-compete agreements with employees.
  3. Mark or otherwise indicate as confidential the information sought to be protected.
  4. Use password protection for electronic access to the information.
  5. Limit internal employee access to the information on a “need-to-know” basis.
  6. Routinely remind employees that they need to keep information confidential, making sure to specify exactly what information should be treated as confidential and obtain employees’ written acknowledgment that they have been instructed in this regard.

For more information, contact us: info@beckreed.com or (617) 500-8660.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Public Trade Secrets?

Today’s headlines provided an interesting twist on the intersection between trade secret law and sunshine (or “freedom of information”) laws. See UConn Fights to Keep Donor List Secret.

Typically, the issue of what confidential information in the hands of government bodies is available to the public arises from the potential disclosure of private information belonging to a company or individual and provided to the agency (frequently) under compulsion or as a requirement in order to obtain something from the government. In this case, however, the information belonged to the government.

The question, therefore, arises because UConn, a public entity, is subject to the sunshine laws. As a result, according to the party seeking the information, even though the information might – if UConn were a private entity – be considered a trade secret, the fact that UConn is a public entity means that the public “owns,” and therefore is entitled to access to, that information.

The issue (as well what what privacy rights individuals on the list may have) will be taken up by Connecticut’s appellate court. One might wonder, however, what the ramifications would be if UConn’s information were treated as public. For example, would that mean that all government confidential information would be up for grabs? Has Julian Assange (yes, that’s the reason for the picture) found a solution to his problems? (Of course, the answer is no.)

The slippery-slope questions aside, the issue regarding UConn’s confidential information will be decided under Connecticut’s freedom of information act, which is extremely narrow in terms of the ability for public entities to keep matters private. We’ll keep you posted.

This article originally appeared in Russell Beck‘s site, Fair Competition Law.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

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