Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: The Secrets to Winning Trade Secret Cases

This is a great book for lawyers seeking to learn about trade secrets litigation written in accessible language, and also for experienced practitioners who might learn some new tactics.  While it covers all of the basics, such as the elements of a claim, what is a trade secret, and the like, it is chock full of helpful tips that any IP litgator can appreciate.  For example, the first chapter contains "Ten Keys to Winning" trade secret cases.  This  goes through some basic information, but also contains a nice explanation for the reason why a company might want to forget about making a trade secret claim at all and instead pursue other remedies.  The book also contains examples of "killer crosses" that help show how to execute the  advice given.  One sample cross examination appears in the first chapter, going through a line of questioning designed to show how companies try to protect too much information by stamping documents confidential that end up being distributed outside the "need to know" group.  The cross shows how the overreaching approach could confuse employees as to what is a trade secret and what is not.  After all, if the company is stamping as confidential documents that it clearly did not keep confidential, how is the employee supposed to know what is really a secret?

The book is helpful for both those suing for misappropriation of trade secrets, and those defending the claims.  For most of the points made in the book, a helpful case in point example is inserted, with a brief description of the case and the holding.  These are not only great citations but also handy real world examples of the results of the tactics in use.  The book also stays on the cutting edge of trade secrets law with a splendid chapter on inevitable disclosure.  Another great chapter is the section on the determination whether misappropriation is criminal in nature, and a very frank explanation of the dilemma between pursuing criminal charges versus civil remedies.  An advanced section details the use of clean rooms to reverse engineer the alleged secrets, and  others explain the intersection of trade secrets with (1) patent law and (2) noncompetes. 

Of course, trade secrets law is a state by state subject for the most part, although the Uniform Trade Secrrets Act has been adopted widely.  Thus, the book by necessity does not delve deeply into the conflicts between states, and sticks to practical advice that applies to all cases.  It is not a hornbook or a treatise.  True to its title, it is a litigation guide.  There is a fantastic appendix with a sample complaint, protective order, and TRO order.  A great section on packaging a criminal case for prosecutors is also included.

However, the book could spend more time on the preemption issues with the UTSA that often arise with multi-count complaints.  Also, the book contains sample jury instructions, but only for six states that seem to be randomly selected, such as Arkansas and Ohio. One wonders how Arkansas made the cut but not Georgia. 

I know of no other book in the market that gives such practical and comprehensive advice about how to effectively litigate trade secrets cases.  In my opinion it is a must-read for any lawyer serious about becoming successful in the trade secrets litigation practice.  Now, how to be a winner in trade secret cases is no longer a secret.  

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