In the January issue of Corporate Counsel magazine, David Walton, a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the rise in Trade Secret litigation. The article, which notes that trade secret litigation in federal and state courts has doubled between 1995 and 2004 and is on pace to double again by 2017, focuses on the two recent court cases involving Motorola, and the uptick in employees being accused of stealing trade secrets. Walton notes that with all the new technology, it is easier to steal trade secrets. “It’s much easier to steal the proverbial secret sauce now, because that recipe isn’t just sitting in a notebook in a shelf somewhere.” Adding that cloud systems are seemingly increasing the problem now that employees can just download files to places like Dropbox. “It used to be in these types of cases you would just check the emails and flash drives to see if they were taking documents. It’s more complicated, and it’s only going to get more complicated.” However, new technology also makes it easier to track the theft, noting that every electronic transfer leaves a footprint.
Walton also discusses the paranoia that has gripped some smaller companies when it comes to trade secrets. This paranoia has led to some embarrassing scandals. Walton warns companies, “You always have to look for the innocent explanations and be careful. … You have to let the evidence be its own advocate.”