Trade Secrets

Clients often ask what measures they need to take to protect their trade secrets, should it be necessary to enforce them in court and prove that they were treated as secrets.

Here’s how Kentucky Fried Chicken does it, according to an AP story published today:

The recipe lays out a mix of 11 herbs and spices that coat the chain’s Original Recipe chicken, including exact amounts for each ingredient. It is written in pencil and signed by Harland Sanders.

The iconic recipe is now protected by an array of high-tech security gadgets, including motion detectors and cameras that allow guards to monitor the vault around the clock.

Thick concrete blocks encapsulate the vault, situated near office cubicles, that is connected to a backup generator to keep the security system operating in times of power outages.

The recipe is such a tightly held secret that not even Eaton knows its full contents.

Read the full article

Steve Chow at Burns & Levinson has sent me the legislation attached below, which the Massachusetts Uniform Law Commission, of which he is a member, filed with the Massachusetts House of Representatives on November 5, 2008.

This is the sixth attempt since 1995 to get the 1985 Uniform Trade Secret Act (UTSA) enacted in Massachusetts; although there was no opposition, the furthest that a prior attempt progressed was to third reading in the House. The uniform act has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Apart from Massachusetts, the only other states that have not adopted the act are New York, New Jersey, Texas and Wyoming.

Steve Chow advises me that, because of some interest from the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, there is a better than even chance that the legislation will be adopted in Massachusetts before the end of this legislative session, which ends in July 2010.… Read the full article

The following is background that may be necessary for some readers to understand the issues raised in the Thompson v. Zotero lawsuit, discussed below.

The Mozilla Firefox web browser (the second-most popular web browser, after Microsoft Internet Explorer) allows anyone with the talent and interest to develop “add-ons”. An add-on is a computer functionality that is added to and integrated with the Firefox browser. The Firefox user downloads the add-on from the web, and the add-on is automatically “installed” by Firefox. The add-on can be used, disabled or deleted, at the user’s choice. What makes this possible is that Firefox is an open source web browser, allowing developers to fully integrate their software with the browser. Developers can register their add-ons with the Firefox web repository, where over 6,000 add-ons are available. The add-ons are rated and critiqued by users, creating a reliable marketplace based on reputation.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has add-onsin name, but it is a much more restricted, less open and less integrated technology, and therefore is far less robust than the Firefox add-ons.… Read the full article

Do Androids Dream …

by Lee Gesmer on November 6, 2007

As the lawyer drifts off to sleep the fantasy of the “perfect” IP case drifts across his mind. Not a patent case (way, way too complicated), not a copyright case (too boring if straightforward, and too difficult if not) ), not a trademark case (surveys, secondary meaning, no thanks), but a straightforward, meat and potatoes, trade secret case: there is a trade secret, and someone stole it, case over.

The lawyer falls asleep thinking about the perfect case, a big case, but a realtively easy case. After all, most cases are so hard, everyone deserves an easy case once in a while, right?

Robotic FXIn the lawyer’s dream a former former employee of the lawyer’s client (lets call the employee him Jameel Ahed, or simply Mr. Ahed) has started a competitive company. The client has obtained the competitive product, taken it apart, and concluded that Mr. Ahed very likely used the client’s trade secrets to create the product.… Read the full article