Employment Alert: Court of Appeals Ruling Potentially Streamlines Trade Secret Litigation


Whether on the complaining or defending end of a trade secret complaint, employers can agree on one thing: trade secret litigation is expensive. Over the past several years, what was already a costly process had become even more burdensome, as litigants expended tens of thousands of dollars bringing and defending against motions — even holding full-blown “mini trials” — to determine whether the trade secrets at issue had been identified with sufficient particularity to allow the plaintiff to begin trade secret discovery. Companies with trade secrets at risk faced a dilemma: on the one hand, trade secret law demands that companies use “reasonable efforts” (including litigation, if necessary) to protect their trade secrets; on the other hand, early trade secret procedural maneuvers threatened to break the bank. Likewise, companies defending against complaints had to carefully assess the very high potential costs of the “trade secret identification” battle against allowing a competitor early access to their confidential information.

Now, it appears that certain companies — particularly (but not exclusively) those outside of high-tech or other complex industries — may have a much less expensive path to taking discovery about alleged misappropriated trade secrets. A recent California Court of Appeals ruling, Brescia v. Angelin, should eliminate a lot of the gamesmanship and expense associated with designating trade secrets prior to commencing trade secret discovery.

Please see full alert for more information.

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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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