Choate Launches Formal Trade Secret Group
Choate Press Release
| October 22, 2012
Choate today announced the formation of a dedicated Trade Secret Group to help clients address the escalation in trade secret misappropriation in today’s corporate world. Choate, which has handled major national and international trade secret litigation for many years, has formalized its practice into a highly specialized Trade Secret Group that combines the litigation, intellectual property, government enforcement, corporate, and labor and employment law expertise that companies need to navigate these increasingly complex and business-critical trade secret problems.
Choate’s Trade Secret Group will be led by litigation partners Michael Bunis and Paul Popeo. The group’s cross-disciplinary team will work with clients to prevent, deter, manage, mitigate and resolve risks associated with these complex issues; to conduct trade secret risk assessments in corporate transactions; to develop dedicated and enforceable policies to prevent trade secret theft; to establish trade secret protection programs; and to provide expert litigation counsel when trade secret disputes arise.
“Trade secret theft is a huge issue for companies, but many don’t fully understand where the genuine risks lie and how they can and should best protect their intellectual property assets. The reality is every company with employees has potential trade secret problems. At some point, employees leave, and it’s simple to download files and walk out the door with the company’s most valuable information,” said Michael Bunis, co-leader of Choate’s Trade Secret Group. “This isn’t just a problem for high tech companies, it’s an issue for most companies. We can not only advise companies that are victims of trade secret theft, but can help them anticipate and prevent problems before they arise.”
In 2011, four of the 10 biggest intellectual property verdicts of the year were trade secret cases, including the two largest ever involving trade secrets. The largest, for $2.3 billion, involved an ex-employee of a medical device unit of Minnesota-based St. Jude Medical Inc., who was accused of taking company secrets for a Chinese start-up company. The second highest verdict, for $920 million, was rendered against a South Korean company over the misappropriation of secrets connected to DuPont’s Kevlar™ product line. According to the FBI, which unveiled billboards across the US in May 2012 with the message “Protect America’s Trade Secrets,” companies have lost more than $13 billion due to trade secret theft since October 2011.
“These cases typically fall into two categories. It’s either a former employee or a failed business relationship that leads to stolen trade secrets. When this happens, companies often turn to their employment or corporate attorneys who may not have the broader expertise in intellectual property and technology litigation. There is an enormous advantage in working with lawyers who have experience handling these cases, who understand the role technology plays in the client’s business and who, because of that experience, can immediately formulate a strategic solution,” said Paul Popeo, co-leader of Choate’s Trade Secret Group.
“Speed is the critical element in trade secret cases. Companies must act very quickly from the time they learn about a theft, so they need integrated trade secret counsel on board from the beginning,” added Bunis. “Because of the evolution of technology and the ease and speed with which huge volumes of data can be copied and transmitted, companies can no longer ignore that trade secret theft affects their business. They must think about it before problems occur, be prepared, and act aggressively to deal with this threat.”