For all of 2016, one of the most significant developments in the Intellectual Property field was the implementation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”).

Federal Rights

Before implementation of the DTSA, trade secret protection was a matter of state law. While businesses had federal rights for patents, trademarks and copyrights, trade secret was solely governed at the state level. The DTSA changed this legal landscape to provide legal uniformity and federal protection for trade secrets as well as access to the federal courts to enforce trade secrets.

Under DTSA a “trade secret” is broadly classified as any “form of intellectual property that allow[s] for the legal protection of commercially valuable, proprietary information.”

As noted, under the DTSA, a trade secret owner can sue for misappropriation n the federal courts. This is a significant development because having adjudicated patent infringement matters for decades, the federal courts are prepared to understand complex trade secrets and the technologies behind them.

Continue Reading A Look Back on 2016 in Intellectual Property: Congress Gives a Present to Innovators

trade secrets label on folderIn a rare example of getting something done, the Senate and House of Representatives have passed Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”) and it is now headed to the White House for signature. President Obama has indicated he will likely sign the legislation. With this in mind, it is a good time to review just what proprietary information your business has and how thoroughly it is protected.

Current law

Until now, trade secrets have been protected by state law. While the law is relatively standard there are some slight variations state by state. Indeed, 48 states, Florida included, have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) in order to provide businesses with uniformity. At the federal level, while providing protection for other forms of intellectual property like patents, trademarks and copyrights, trade secrets had no specific protection. The DTSA is changing this legal landscape.

DTSA

Continue Reading Upcoming Changes in Federal Law Means It Is Time to Look At Trade Secrets

7041862895_6192f3c764_zLast spring, we discussed Tesla’s problems securing trademark rights in its name in China. See our post here. The moral of the Tesla story was to seek trademark registration in China as early as possible. Now, Apple has lost a trademark battle in China that underscores the importance of the Tesla lesson and gives an additional twist.

Apple’s Battle

In 2002, Apple registered the IPHONE trademark in China for computer hardware and software and mobile telephones. In 2007, Xintong Tiandi, a leather goods maker, sought and obtained registration of the IPHONE trademark for leather goods, including phone cases. Apple, claiming that its IPHONE mark was famous and well known in China, challenged Xintong Tiandi’s IPHONE registration in the China Trade Mark Review and Adjudication Board, where it lost. Apple then took the fight to the courts in China and lost in the lower court. Apple appealed and The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court has ruled against Apple again, stating that Xintong Tiandi registered the IPHONE mark before Apple, thus giving it superior rights, and Apple’s IPHONE trademark was not sufficiently well known in China at the time Xintong Tiandi registered IPHONE for leather goods. As the first user of the mark, Xintong Tiandi had the greatest rights and Apple’s claims failed.

Continue Reading Learn from Apple’s Woes in China: Register Early and Often

NCAA flickr bp6316The NCAA Basketball Tournament is here which also means local pride is high and many businesses use the Tournament as a marketing opportunity. Many promotions will refer to terms like MARCH MADNESS or FINAL FOUR for impact. The NCAA, however, is always vigilant and aggressively protects against unauthorized uses of its trademarks, especially during the Tournament. The NCAA has a number of registered trademarks relating to the Tournament including MARCH MADNESS, FINAL FOUR, ELITE EIGHT, and THE BIG DANCE. Use of these trademarks in ways that connote come sort of connection or affiliation with the NCAA or the Tournament will likely draw an objection from the NCAA.

Dos and Don’ts

Continue Reading March Trademark Madness—Don’t Foul Out

Audit checklist, with tick against "audit satisfactory",Businesses routinely conduct inventory audits to account for goods on hand, stocks of parts or components, equipment audits to account for machinery and its condition, and financial audits to locate and account for cash and business valuation. Businesses that do not conduct audits invariably run into problems.

Intellectual Property (“IP”) represents an asset class that businesses should regularly audit for a variety of reasons, including: Continue Reading 5 Reasons Why You Should Conduct an Intellectual Property Audit


Trade secrets are proprietary pieces of information, unknown to others, that give you an advantage over competitors. While thoughts of trade secrets often conjure such iconic examples as the formula for Coca-Cola or Colonel Sanders’ “11 herbs and spices,” they can be far more mundane. However exotic a trade secret might be, all businesses have them and the central key to protecting them is keeping them confidential. This post will show some of the steps that can be implemented to ensure protection of your proprietary information.

  1. Create Processes to Identify Trade Secrets in the First Instance

As noted, trade secrets are things not generally known outside your organization that provide you with an advantage over competitors. While trade secrets can take many forms, the cornerstone is they are meant to be confidential. Trade secrets can include, among other things, recipes and formulas, process steps, customer lists, supplier information, pricing schedules, forecasts, business plans and prototypes. The key consideration is they are things you want kept hidden from competitors.

Continue Reading 5 Tips to Protect Your Proprietary Information

ConfidentialBusiness relationships often lead to the exchange of sensitive information or access to highly confidential matter. When faced with this situation, is it enough to merely tell your business partner that something is confidential? According to a recent decision, it appears the answer is no.

Trade secrets are those things that provide your business with a competitive advantage over others. Classic examples of trade secrets are the recipe for Coca-Cola or Colonel Sanders’ blend of herbs and spices. Many different types of information can be protected as a trade secret. However, in order to maintain a trade secret and protection for it, the owner of a trade secret must take “reasonable steps” to protect the information from disclosure to others.

Lessons from the WSI Decision

Continue Reading The Pitfalls of Informal Confidentiality Arrangements