Trade Secret Tracker

THE LATEST UPDATES IN TRADE SECRET LAW

The court in Planner 5D v. Facebook, one of the first cases about trade secrets in artificial intelligence datasets, has granted the motion to dismiss on the copyright claims and denied the motion on the trade secret claims. Trade secrets. The court held that the amended complaint sufficiently pleaded that the Planner 5D data files were trade secrets and that the defendants used improper means to acquire those trade secrets. Defendants first argued that the…
One of the ways trade secret disputes differ from other IP litigation is that in a trade secret dispute it is not always clear what the intellectual property actually is. Trade secrets aren’t disclosed to the patent office or registered like trademarks. Nor are they as clearly defined as copyrights. Thus, a threshold question in every trade secret case is what the trade secrets actually are. This creates a natural tension, as the very definition…
Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California held a hearing last week to address 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss by Facebook and Princeton University in UAB “Planner5D” v. Facebook, Inc., et al., Case No. 19-CV-03132 (N.D. Cal.). This appears to be one of the first trade secret misappropriation and copyright cases relating to artificial intelligence datasets. Plaintiff Planner 5D has a website with a home design tool to allow customers to digitally design their…
A Texas appellate court recently affirmed the principle that state free speech rights don’t provide immunity for trade secret misappropriation. Collaborative Imaging v. Zotec Partners. Zotec Partners provides revenue cycle and practice management services to healthcare providers. Dhruva Chopra worked at Zotec as a client service manager. In 2018, Chopra resigned and began working with Texas Radiology Associates, LLP (which had been a Zotec client) on a competing business. Chopra allegedly had knowledge of Zotec…
A Texas appellate court reversed a $740 million trade secret theft and fraud judgment for real estate analytics company HouseCanary against rival Amrock, holding flawed jury instructions require a new trial. In 2014, Title Source Insurance (TSI), a property valuation and settlement services company, contracted with HouseCanary, a real estate analytics company, to design an app that would allow TSI to perform appraisals more efficiently. The parties specifically agreed not to “decompile, disassemble, reverse translate,…
Computer forensic information often becomes an issue in trade secret cases, as computer artifacts or other electronic information (such as on external hard drives, cell phones, etc.) can sometimes prove or disprove whether a person accessed, used, transferred, or destroyed trade secret material. If the parties or the judge determines that the computer forensic information is relevant, the next key question is how much needs to be exchanged and what limitations will be in place.…
UAB dba Planner 5D sued Facebook and Princeton for copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation under both the Defend Trade Secrets Act and California UTSA, based on use of an AI dataset. The plaintiff alleges that it owns a large dataset of three-dimensional objects and scenes. Princeton allegedly downloaded thousands of scenes by scraping the plaintiff’s website and used the dataset for scene-recognition activities. Princeton later published the data it gathered publicly. Later, Facebook allegedly…
Through a series of preliminary rulings, the Central District of California has found that a nonprofit organization’s confidential membership list could constitute a trade secret under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). The case is Brain Injury Association of California v. Yari, No. CV 19-5912-MWF (JCX) (C.D. Cal.). The plaintiff, Brain Injury Association of California (BIAC), alleges that a former BIAC board member, Naz Yari, took off with BIAC’s “master list”—a detailed compilation of data…
The Third Circuit recently affirmed a ruling out of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which held that a NASA subcontractor could sue for misappropriation of trade secrets under the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act (the UTSA), even though the subcontractor did not own the trade-secret information. The subcontractor, Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. (AFS), had signed a contract granting exclusive ownership rights in the hydraulic systems it designed to the Virginia…
Alleged spoliation of evidence is unfortunately a somewhat common feature of many trade secret misappropriation cases. A recent district court order out of the Northern District of California, WeRide Corp. v. Kun Huang, highlighted just how serious the penalty for spoliation can be. No. 5:18-CV-07233-EJD, 2020 WL 1967209 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 24, 2020). In WeRide, the defendant deleted entire email accounts, failed to disable its email server’s setting that automatically deleted all emails older than 90 days,…