Shhh — It’s a Secret

July 21, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

It’s official. James Spader’s uber-intense character, Robert California, is going to be the new big boss on The Office. My colleague, Kristin Gray, excitedly revealed this news in her post two weeks ago. Kristin, its seems, was a fan of Spader’s character on Boston Legal, which I applaud her for admitting on the Internet.

For me, it’s Spader’s role in Wall Street as Roger Barnes, son (nephew?) of the senior partner at a corporate law firm. Barnes is very instructive to my law practice today. It was Barnes who put it in Bud Fox’s head that there was a treasure trove of confidential information in his colleagues’ law offices. Fox bought into a janitorial firm to gain after-hours access to Barnes’ firm — access he used for insider stock trading.

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Categories: Trade Secrets

Corporate Espionage for Dummies

October 21, 2010 - by: Brian Kurtz 5 COMMENTS

Prison Sentences for Michael, Dwight, and Jim: Up to seven years for interception of oral communications plus up to seven years for attempted theft of trade secrets. There may also be criminal conspiracy prosecutions against Meredith, Oscar, and Ryan.

Litigation Value: Danny Cordray’s action for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Dunder Mifflin and several individuals = $250,000. Osprey’s action against Dunder Mifflin and several individuals for misappropriation of trade secrets = an injunction and damages to be proved at trial.

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When Employees Act Fishy

August 06, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 3 COMMENTS

Tonight we revisited the episode “Heavy Competition,” which is rife with the kind of employee misconduct that keeps us lawyers busy. Last time we looked at this episode, we talked about trade-secret violations as well as Dwight Schrute’s personal liability for his bizarre antics, which included placing a dead fish in an air-conditioning vent in Michael Scott’s new office. (Can you imagine Dwight trying to explain to a judge –- “Your Honor, a dead fish in a vent has long been considered by generations of Schrutes to be a traditional welcome gift!”)  Ultimately, we decided that Dunder Mifflin probably would not be responsible for Dwight’s crazy actions.

So why isn’t Dunder Mifflin responsible for Dwight’s poor judgment?  This time around, let’s talk a little about what has to happen for an employer to become vicariously liable for its employees’ bad behavior. As a general rule, an employer may be liable for an employee’s actions when he is acting within the scope of his employment. Conduct is not “within the scope of employment” if it is unauthorized or doesn’t serve the employer’s purpose. Determining the scope of employment is hardly a black-and-white issue, and courts often consider whether the bad behavior was foreseeable.

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Who Owns the Inventions of an Entreprenerd?

July 23, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 0 COMMENTS

Tonight featured two more repeats of The Office. Summer is great, well, except for the TV (come on, is NYC Prep really giving you your fix?). Since I figured we pretty much covered everything blogworthy in those episodes when they first aired, I turned to the show’s official website for inspiration this week.

NBC’s fun site features “The Office Addictionary,” which gives us this word of the day: “Entreprenerd (noun) A person obsessed with inventing useless or bizarre products.” Many of us know these types of people — I think of the guy in the movie Office Space who invented a “Jump to Conclusions Mat” where you could literally jump onto various evenly spaced conclusions.

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Categories: Trade Secrets