A good article in BNA by Eric W. Schweibenz and Lisa M.
Mandrusiak argues that the recent trend in trade secret
litigation has been to require plaintiffs to state with
specificity early in litigation what trade secrets
they claim the defendants stole. This prevents
"fishing expeditions," where plaintiffs bring vague
claims for misappropriation of trade secrets in the hope that
they'll find something solid when they obtain documents and
other information from defendants in discovery. It also
helps defendants decide what is relevant when
responding to discovery requests from plaintiffs
and helps defendants prepare a defense. Ultimately, the
requirement can help resolve cases faster because the defendants
know earlier what the case is about and the strength of their
This requirement should make employers that are considering
suing former employees for misappropriation of trade secrets think
before they file. I've
written about this before, but it bears repeating: if an
employer is going to accuse an employee of stealing trade
secrets, it better have a good idea of what those trade
secrets are. If the employer doesn't, that fact can
really slow down, and even stop, a case before it really
gets started, and the employer will lose a good deal of credibility
in the judge's eyes.
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