The Trade Secrets Blog

Following Trade Secrets Litigation

KFC Security Upgrade Complete

Back in September I reported that KFC was temporarily re-locating their famous 11 herbs and spices recipe so that they could upgrade the security around it. You can find that report here.

Now one of the most famous trade secrets in existence has been placed in its new home. According to this article from yahoo.com, the secret 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.”

So, if you were planning on misappropriating the Colonel’s valuable trade secret, it looks like you missed your last best chance–that would have been before they moved it when “the recipe was kept in a filing cabinet equipped with two combination locks in the vault.”

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February 10, 2009 Posted by | Intellectual Property, Trade Secrets | , , , | 2 Comments

Practically Speaking – Beware of Phishing

Interesting article over networkworld.com about the dangers of phishing scams. As you’ll read in the article, phishing scams have become very sophisticated and if anyone at your company who has access to confidential information falls prey, you’re trade secrets may be at risk. Phishing scams can surreptitiously install a keystroke logger and other programs that allow remote control of the PC. And they’re no longer limited to lower level employees. In fact, the practice of targeting corporate executives and other important employees even has a name–“Whaling.”

According to Lorrie Faith Cranor, director of the Carnegie Mellon University CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory, phishing plays on human vulnerabilities and is not strictly a technological problem. “Although we have shown that we can teach people to protect themselves from phishers, even those educated users must remain vigilant and may require periodic retraining to keep up with phishers’ evolving tactics.”

The article has a clever approach to raising awareness within your employees of the sophisticated phishing scams. A web-based program called PhishMe will send fake phishing emails to your employees. For anyone who falls for the fake emails and clicks the link, PhishMe will send instant feedback and training on how to spot genuine phishing emails. Great idea.

File this in the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” file. In other words, even if you follow the advice of this blog to fully protect yourself against trade secret misappropriation, the cheaper and better approach to any trade secret litigation is to avoid it in the first place. Taking this article to heart and ensuring that your key personnel are aware of the tactics and dangers of phishing scams may ultimately save you lots of headache and money, not to mention your competitive edge.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Intellectual Property, Practically Speaking, trade secret theft | , , , | Leave a comment

Microsoft Begins Trade Secret Suit

Biggest news is that Microsoft is getting into the trade secrets fray. Geek.com is reporting that Microsoft has sued its former employee Mike Mullor (no, it’s not what you think–this has nothing to do with an ex-employee taking other employees and trade secrets with him–although I can’t fault you for thinking so) for breach of contract, theft of confidential documents, non-disclosure of intentions, fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unjust enrichment.

It appears that Mr. Mullor, who before beginning work at Microsoft, owned a company called Ancora that was no longer trading, applied for and got a job with Microsoft in 2005 and began compiling information allegedly in fulfillment of a scheme whereby he would take the information and then turnaround and sue Microsoft in a patent infringement case for his startup company.

According to the article: “Mullor thought he was covering his tracks by using software that deleted traces of him downloading files, but Microsoft managed to find the evidence it needed to prove he downloaded files.”

Microsoft “also managed to turn up e-mail evidence [that Mullor] was planning patent lawsuits from 2004, before he joined them.”

Mullor’s response: “These are shameful, dishonest attacks on my character by Microsoft — the company that stole my idea in the first place … Microsoft fired me for trying to protect my own invention — an invention I told them about before they ever hired me.”

Muller also claims that “Microsoft knew about the patent and Ancora and that he discussed it with Microsoft lawyers and their anti-piracy group before taking employment with the company.”

This could get very interesting. Stay tuned . . .

February 5, 2009 Posted by | misappropriation, trade secret theft, Trade Secrets | , , | Leave a comment

Back to Work

I took some time off for Christmas and the New Year, and then was slammed at work when I got back, but now that things have settled down a little I’ll be updating more frequently.

Thanks to all of you who check this blog frequently and I hope that you continue to do so. There’s a lot to catch up on and I will try and get to it, but time is limited because, you know, I have a day job. If you have anything that you are interested in hearing about that occurred over the last few months, please email me and I will respond. Otherwise, I will probably just move forward from today.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment