Practice/Industry Group Overview
Sutherland helps clients design and implement procedures to protect trade secrets, and litigates when necessary against employees, customers and competitors.
Proprietary information, such as the details of business and manufacturing processes, pricing and sourcing, and customer lists, constitutes a valuable asset for all businesses. Without taking the appropriate precautions, the value of these assets is easily lost. At Sutherland, our clients trust us to design, maintain and implement business processes and programs that protect our clients’ know-how, confidential information and trade secrets, including their computer software and systems.
Current and former employees often pose the greatest threats to a company’s trade secrets, particularly in the Internet age. We assist clients in preserving the confidentiality of trade secrets, client lists and other proprietary information through confidentiality agreements and covenants not to compete or solicit. Our lawyers consult with clients to ensure that employees do not intentionally—or even inadvertently—share sensitive company information online. When an employee violates an agreement or is terminated, we advise on quick and decisive responses and on managing public relations issues that may result. Computer software and systems are among the most widespread trade secrets in use in the U.S. economy. Our lawyers understand how to structure development and license agreements to allow for commercialization of these valuable systems, while protecting them from unauthorized use or copying.
We understand that litigation may be the best course of action when a trade secret is leaked or other proprietary information is compromised. Our IP litigators frequently collaborate with Sutherland colleagues in the employment litigation practice to provide comprehensive advice and representation in trade secret litigation. We also represent employers in injunction and temporary restraining order (TRO) hearings in trade secrets, non-compete agreement and employment agreement cases across the country. The stakes of IP litigation can be extremely high. Our attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining summary disposition of cases prior to trial and are also skilled at resolving disputes using alternative means such as arbitration and mediation.
Proactive approach. We advise our clients to identify their most valuable trade secrets and ensure that the information remains secure.
We protect brand reputation. We help our clients protect their reputations, including through strategic public relations campaigns, when trade secrets are stolen or when current or former employees commit misconduct.
Technical knowledge. A significant number of our IP lawyers are registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and hold advanced technical degrees, so we understand the intricacies of our clients’ products and processes and can better advise on protection strategies.
Litigation strength. When representing clients in employee-related trade secret matters, Sutherland brings together the technical skills of our intellectual property lawyers with the extensive knowledge of our employment lawyers.
Sophisticated strategy. We regularly handle multi-issue, multidistrict disputes between industry competitors, and understand that litigation represents an important part of an overall competitive strategy.
Diverse client base. Clients in a broad range of industries trust us with their trade secrets work, including insurance brokerage and consulting firms, consumer products manufacturers, computer software developers, equipment manufacturers and specialty industrial chemicals manufacturers.
Nuts and Bolts
Our trade secret experience includes:
- Analyzing affected information and identifying appropriate protective measures
- Designing employee policies regarding the treatment of sensitive information
- Preparing and assisting in the enforcement of non-competition and confidentiality agreements
- Advising clients on implementing security measures
- Analyzing issues related to post-employment restrictive covenants, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty
- Preparing software development and licensing agreements that preserve trade secret protections
- Representing clients in litigation involving allegations of misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential business information by competitors, former customers or former employees
- Representing clients in litigation involving allegations of tortious interference with contractual or business relationships
- Litigating on behalf of clients in cases involving allegations of employee raiding
We know the value inherent in trade secrets, and we work closely with clients to reduce the threats from intentional or accidental loss of information and business reputation. Whenever trade secrets are compromised, we help clients achieve the greatest remedies possible.
Sutherland achieves favorable settlement for Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., in trade secrets misappropriation case.
Responding to the development of a competing financial services computer system by former employees, Sutherland obtained expedited electronic and traditional discovery seeking evidence of misappropriation of trade secret systems designs and algorithms. The matter settled after discovery and incorporated monetary relief with marketing and other restrictions on the former employees and their new business.
Sutherland successfully settles trade secret matter for Z-Line Designs, Inc.
Sutherland counseled a cutting-edge furniture manufacturer in a trade secret case against a key competitor and former officer that involved protecting the company's confidential sourcing information. We obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that led to a settlement.
Sutherland scores a trial victory for Myriad Development.
Sutherland won a favorable jury verdict and protected software ownership rights for Myriad Development in a trial against a licensee.