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Weekly Issues in the News

By Geisa Balla

Trade Secrets During Discovery

New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich issued a decision on April 23, 2012, holding that plaintiffs who claim their trade secrets were misappropriated must identify what those secrets were during discovery. The decision was issued in a lawsuit by MSCI, which alleged that a former employee and his new employer misappropriated MSCI's source code for risk management software to sell to investment institutions. In a November ruling, the judge permitted MSCI to identify only which portions of its source code were not trade secrets. The defendants argued that it was unfair to expect defendants to deduce what secrets were at issue. The judge sided with them, holding that MSCI must identify "with reasonable peculiarity" the trade secrets were allegedly misappropriated. "Only by distinguishing between the general knowledge in their field and their trade secrets, will the court be capable of setting the parameters of discovery and will defendants be able to prepare their defense," Kornreich wrote. "Plaintiffs who have brought this action, bear the burden of proving their allegations," the judge continued. "Merely providing defendants with plaintiffs' 'reference library' to establish what portions of their source code are in the public domain shifts the burden to defendants to clarify plaintiffs' claim."


Apple and Motorola

The International Trade Commission (ITC)issued a preliminary ruling that Apple Inc. infringed on a Motorola Mobility Inc. patent in making its iPhones and iPads. The patent at issue covered eliminating noise and other interference during voice and data transmissions. A full commission will review the preliminary decision and make a final ruling in August. Motorola also accused Apple of violating three other patents, but the ITC did not rule in Motorola's favor on those patents. Motorola, who is being acquired by Google Inc., has filed related lawsuits against Apple in federal courts in Illinois and Florida. These legal battles are part of the larger market share battle between Apple's products and Google's Android software. Google has not yet been directly involved in the lawsuits because it does not make its own phone, but that will change once it acquires Motorola.


Facebook and AOL

Facebook will pay Microsoft Corp $550 million for 650 patents and patent applications, as well as a license to another 275 patents and applications owned by Microsoft. Earlier this month Microsoft purchased more than $1 billion in AOL Inc. patents. Microsoft's General Counsel stated that the Facebook deal allows Microsoft "to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction." In the meantime, Facebook is also in a legal battle with Yahoo Inc. Yahoo sued Facebook earlier this year, alleging that Facebook infringed 10 Yahoo patents, and Facebook countersued alleging that Yahoo infringes 10 of Facebook's patents.



Google has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for allegedly impeding the agency's investigation into whether Google violated federal rules when its street-mapping service collected and stored data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. The FCC stated that Google executives "deliberately impeded and delayed" its investigation. A Google engineer who developed the code for Google's Street View service declined to testify and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Google responded that it did not provide "untimely" responses, but the delays by the investigators lengthened the FCC's review. Google told the FCC in a letter that it "disagrees with the premise" of the fine, but "has determined to pay the forfeiture proposed [by the FCC] in order to put this investigation behind it." The FCC stated it did not find enough evidence to conclude that Google violated federal law designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 27, 2012 4:50 PM.

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