Maryland Court: Employees Who Steal Data from the Company Computer Do Not Violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

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A federal district court in Maryland held that an employee who stole proprietary data from his prior employer did not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) because he was authorized to access the data and use the data on the job before he terminated his employment with his prior employer. Océ North America, Inc. v. MCS Services, Inc., 2010 WL 3703277 *3-*5 (D. Md. Sept. 16, 2010).

Océ North America (Océ) “designs, manufactures, sells, and services high volume production printing systems . . .for commercial printing functions.” Id. at *1. A former Océ employee went to work for a direct competitor, the defendant MCS Services, Inc. (“MCS”). Océ claimed that before leaving its employ the former employee copied from its computers its proprietary “diagnostic software, a parts manual, and a maintenance manual” and that MCS distributed this stolen material to “its engineers who are using these copies in their daily work.” Id.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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