Tag Archives: Summary judgment

Ninth Circuit Holds That Newspaper Reporters Not Exempt

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On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in “all respects” the trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment to plaintiffs, a judgment after jury and bench trials, and an award of attorney’s fees to plaintiffs.  Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc., Nos. 08-55483, 08-56740, — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 3733568 (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010).  Among other things, the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff newspaper reporters were non-exempt.  (Thank you to Randy Renick for bringing this case to my attention.)

Background

Employees of Chinese Daily News, Inc. (“CDN”), a Chinese-language newspaper, filed suit against CDN on behalf of current, former, and future CDN employees based in CDN’s San Francisco and Monterey Park (Los Angeles), California locations.  Id. *1.  Plaintiffs claimed violations of the FLSA, California’s Labor Code, and California’s Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, alleging that employees were made to work in excess of eight hours per day and forty hours per week. Id. Continue reading

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Saved Development Costs Available as Measure of Damages

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Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the Northern District of California issued an order this week on motions for partial summary judgment in Oracle Corp. v. SAP AG, et al., No. C 07-1658 PJH, 2010 WL 3258603 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 17, 2010) (slip op.).   In considering whether recovery of “saved development costs” is an available measure of damages, the court  distinguished Ajaxo, Inc. v. E*Trade Group, Inc., 135 Cal. App. 4th 21 (2005);

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Judge William Alsup Warns Litigants in Golf Club Case: “No mulligans on summary judgment or discovery will be permitted. Both sides must be ready to come out swinging.”

362.365 - My lucky golf outfit
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In Swingless Golf Club Corp. v. Taylor, No. C 08-05574 WHA, — F. Supp. 2d —-, 2010 WL 3081255 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 6, 2010), plaintiff claims patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition under Section 17200 of the California Business and Professions Code, violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), and breach of contract related to the “swingless” golf club.  At the heart of the dispute is a golf club that is a:

pyrotechnic device that uses explosive charges, a wedge-shaped piston, and a trigger to blast golf balls hundreds of yards down a fairway. Designed for golfers who cannot (or would rather not) swing, this intriguing invention– which looks like a traditional golf club except that it is loaded with gunpowder . . . . Continue reading

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Navy Wins MSJ in Reverse-FOIA Case with a Trade Secrets Act Cause of Action

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In a reverse-FOIA case, JCI Metal Products v. U.S. Dept. of the Navy, Slip Copy, 2010 WL 2925436 (S.D. Cal.  Jul 23, 2010) (NO. 09-CV-2139-IEG), Plaintiff JCI Metal Products (“JCI”) brought an action seeking to prevent disclosure of certain information relating to its past contract with Defendant United States Department of the Navy (“Navy”). Before the Court were Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. The court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

JCI’s second cause of action alleged that disclosure by the Navy of JCI’s unit prices for each contract line item (“CLIN”) information at issue would violate and contravene the Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1905.

The Trade Secrets Act provides a criminal penalty for:

Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States . . . publishes, divulges, discloses, or makes known in any manner or to any extent not authorized by law any information coming to him in the course of his employment or official duties . . . which information concerns or relates to the trade secrets, processes, operations, style of work, or apparatus, or to the identity, confidential statistical data, amount or source of any income, profits, losses, or expenditures of any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or association . . . .

The Court held that the Trade Secrets Act “cannot override the FOIA’s obligatory disclosure provisions.” Citing CNA Fin. Corp., 830 F.2d at 1141-42; Gen. Elec. Co. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Comm’n, 750 F.2d 1394, 1401-02 (7th Cir.1984) (“[T]he Trade Secrets Act has no independent force in cases where the Freedom of Information Act is involved….”).  The Court concluded that the information sought was not protected by Exemption 4 of the FOIA, which exempts from disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.”  Accordingly, “because the information in this case is not protected by Exemption 4, neither can it be protected by the Trade Secrets Act.”  Therefore, the Court granted the Navy’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the Trade Secrets Act cause of action.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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In Trade Secrets Case Related to Barnes and Noble’s Nook Device: Court Grants Partial Summary Judgment Based on Disclosure of Secrets in Patent Applications, But Rejects UTSA Preemption Argument as Premature

Nook
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The Northern District of California granted partial summary judgment to a defendant in a trade secrets case on the ground that plaintiff disclosed its information to the public in its published patent applications.  Spring Design, Inc. v. Barnesandnoble.com, LLC, No. C 09-05185 JW, 2010 WL 5422556 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 27, 2010) (slip op.).  The court rejected defendant’s argument that plaintiff’s UCL claim was preempted by the UTSA because “if the confidential information is not a trade secret, then preemption would not apply because the claim would seek a civil remedy not based on the  misappropriation of a trade secret.” Id. *10.

Background

In 2006 and 2007, Plaintiff filed several patent applications which claim different variations of an eReader with a dual-display design, consisting of an electronic paper display (“EPD”) and a liquid crystal display (“LCD”).  Id. *1.  In 2009, Plaintiff and Defendant explored possible collaboration on an eReader, and the parties entered into a nondisclosure agreement (“NDA”) in which the parties agreed not to disclose, reproduce, transmit or use the other’s confidential information except to certain employees on a need-to-know basis.  Id. From February to October 2009, Plaintiff and Defendant conducted several meetings and exchanged emails regarding Plaintiff’s eReader technology.  But on October 20, 2009, Defendant announced the release of the NOOK—its Android-based, dual-screen eReader.  Id. *2.  In 2010, Plaintiff launched its competing eReader device, the Alex, which is also a dual-screen eReader. Id.

Plaintiff Spring Design, Inc. brought an action Barnesandnoble.com, LLC alleging, inter alia, misappropriation of trade secrets and violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code section 17200, et. seqId. *1.Plaintiff alleged that Barnesandnoble.com used Plaintiff’s confidential information to develop a competing eReader device, the Nook, in violation of the parties’ non-disclosure agreement.Id. The parties brought cross motions for summary judgment.

Discussion

Defendant moved for summary judgment on the UTSA cause of action on the grounds that, inter alia: Plaintiff’s information does not qualify for trade secret protection because Plaintiff disclosed its information to the public in its published patent applications.  Id. **3-4. Continue reading

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