Patrick Keating

Texas Trade Secrets

Is Anyone Steering?

Until self-driving cars become common, you would not expect a car to reach its destination without a driver.

Has your business assigned an employee with the responsibility and authority to protect intellectual property?

If not, do you expect to reach your destination of intellectual property security?

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Exit Interviews

Employee exit interviews are a useful tool for protecting businesses trade secrets.  Many businesses use exit interviews for a different purpose – eliciting candid answers from a former insider about what the business is doing right and wrong.  It is also a time to talk to the employee about trade secrets that may be at risk due to the employee’s departure.

Trade secrets may be at risk in two different ways.  The first risk is knowledge loss.  The second risk is inadvertent or intentional disclosure of trade secrets to a competitor. Continue reading

The TCPA Statute and Trade Secrets

The Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”) is a statute in Texas that provides protection from frivolous lawsuits to people exercising their U.S. Constitution First Amendment rights.  The law provides a defendant who is sued for exercising the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of association or the right to petition the government the ability to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit at the outset of the case.  The statute provides that the case shall be dismissed unless the plaintiff presents the court with evidence establishing a “prima facie case for each element of the claim in question.”

Zach Wolfe is in the midst of an interesting three-part blog post series in which he discusses a May 2017 decision by the Austin Court of Appeals, Elite Auto Body, LLC v. Autocraft Bodywerks, Inc., No. 03-15-00064-CV, 2017 WL 1833495 (Tex. App.—Austin May 5, 2017).  The court concluded that a Plaintiff’s theft of trade secrets claim was, in part, subject to a TCPA motion to dismiss.  Continue reading

Texas Amends Trade Secrets Statute

The Texas legislature recently enacted an amendment to the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which becomes effective on September 1, 2017.  The substantive changes to the statute fall into three categories.

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Contractual Stipulation to Injunction

Parties to contracts often include text in the document stipulating that a breach of the agreement will cause “irreparable harm” and, therefore, justify an injunction.  These contract clauses are not a cure-all that relieves a plaintiff from the obligation to prove irreparable injury in court.  Texas courts merely consider the contract stipulation as one factor in favor of finding that a threat of irreparable injury exists.  The plaintiff must still prove that is the case with additional evidence.

The following are a few examples of court decisions following this rule: Texas Health & Human Svs. Commission v. USA, 166 F. Supp. 3d 706, 712 (N.D. Tex. 2016); Dickey’s Barbeque Restaurants, Inc. v. GEM Investment Group, LLC, No. 3:11-CV-2804-L, 2012 WL 1344352, *4 (April 18, 2012, N.D. Tex.).

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