Information Law Case Round-up

Over the past couple weeks some interesting information law cases and decisions have cropped up:Eros, LLC v. Linden Research, Inc., Linden operates "Second Life" the popular online virtual world.  Eros LLC is a company that makes virtual sex toys for use by individuals (e.g. avatars) within Second Life.  Eros competitors allegedly were allowed to create and sell sex toys in Second Life that were similar to those produced by Eros.  Eros alleges that by allowing the sale of products allegedly ripping off Eros' designs, Linden committed copyright and trademark violations.  This is going to be a very interesting case and a true test of the relavancy and appropriateness of our current copyright and trademark regime in a virtual world setting. Dupont v. Hong Meng. With the relative value and importance of data assets and trade secrets at an all time high for organizations, the theft of trade secrets by employees appears to be a more common activity.  In this case DuPont filed a pre-emptive lawsuit to prevent its former employee (Hong Meng) from taking research into a paper-thin computer display technology called an "organic light emitting diode" or OLED to China.  Meng allegedly downloaded confidential Dupont information from his laptop onto an external hard drive.  Damages are alleged but an amount is not specified.  This matter follows a 2007 incident where a fomer Dupont employee stole proprietary information allegedly valuing $400 million. LVRC Holdings v. Brekka. In this case, an employee (Brekka) who emailed himself various sensitive/proprietary while employed by plaintiff (LVRC).  In addition, after the Brekka left LVRC it appears that somebody accessed LVRC's systems using an adminstrative log-on and password he had been given while employed. LVCR alleged that the employee's activities amounted to accessing LVCR's computers "without authorization" in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, however, disagreed, and upheld a motion granting summary judgment in favor of Brekka.  In short, the Appellate Court agreed with the District Court's reasoning that because Brekka was employed by LVRC and provided with access rights to the relevant information at the time he sent the emails to himself, his actions  were not "without authorization" under the CFAA.  In addition, with respect to evidence of somebody logging into LVRC's systems after the employee left the company, the Appellate Court was not persuaded by the plaintiff's argument that Brekka was that individual.  While the username and password had been specifically sent to the Brekka, other indivduals at LVRC had also seen or enjoyed access to the log-in credentials.  As such, it was possible that an individual beside the defendant could have logged in.  In essence the court held that LVRC did not present enough evidence to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Brekka was responsible for the suspect log-in.

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