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Purchasers of vitamin C filed suit, alleging that Chinese exporters had agreed to fix the price and quantity of vitamin C exported to the U.S., in violation of the Sherman Act. The exporters unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the complaint and later sought summary judgment, arguing that Chinese law required them to fix the price and quantity of exports, shielding them from liability under U.S. antitrust law. China’s Ministry of Commerce, the authority authorized to regulate foreign trade, asserted that the alleged conspiracy was actually a pricing regime mandated by the Chinese Government. The purchasers countered that the Ministry had identified no law or regulation requiring the agreement; highlighted a publication announcing that the sellers had agreed to control the quantity and rate of exports without government intervention; and noted China’s statement to the World Trade Organization that it ended its export administration of vitamin C in 2002. The Second Circuit reversed a verdict for the purchasers, stating that federal courts are “bound to defer” to the foreign government’s construction of its own law, whenever that construction is “reasonable.” The Supreme Court vacated. A federal court determining foreign law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 should accord respectful consideration to a foreign government’s submission, but is not bound to accord conclusive effect to such statements. Relevant considerations include the clarity, thoroughness, and support of the foreign government's statement; its context and purpose; the transparency of the foreign legal system; the role and authority of the entity or official offering the statement; and the statement’s consistency with the foreign government’s past positions. Determination of foreign law must be treated as a question of law; courts are not limited to materials submitted by the parties, but “may consider any relevant material or source.” View "Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co." on Justia Law

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Purchasers of vitamin C filed suit, alleging that Chinese exporters had agreed to fix the price and quantity of vitamin C exported to the U.S., in violation of the Sherman Act. The exporters unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the complaint and later sought summary judgment, arguing that Chinese law required them to fix the price and quantity of exports, shielding them from liability under U.S. antitrust law. China’s Ministry of Commerce, the authority authorized to regulate foreign trade, asserted that the alleged conspiracy was actually a pricing regime mandated by the Chinese Government. The purchasers countered that the Ministry had identified no law or regulation requiring the agreement; highlighted a publication announcing that the sellers had agreed to control the quantity and rate of exports without government intervention; and noted China’s statement to the World Trade Organization that it ended its export administration of vitamin C in 2002. The Second Circuit reversed a verdict for the purchasers, stating that federal courts are “bound to defer” to the foreign government’s construction of its own law, whenever that construction is “reasonable.” The Supreme Court vacated. A federal court determining foreign law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 should accord respectful consideration to a foreign government’s submission, but is not bound to accord conclusive effect to such statements. Relevant considerations include the clarity, thoroughness, and support of the foreign government's statement; its context and purpose; the transparency of the foreign legal system; the role and authority of the entity or official offering the statement; and the statement’s consistency with the foreign government’s past positions. Determination of foreign law must be treated as a question of law; courts are not limited to materials submitted by the parties, but “may consider any relevant material or source.” View "Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co." on Justia Law

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Defendants, Nikolaos Pappas and Ascend Medical, Inc. (Ascend), appealed multiple orders of the Superior Court ruling that they misappropriated trade secrets of plaintiff Vention Medical Advanced Components, Inc. d/b/a Advanced Polymers, a Vention Medical Company (Vention), in violation of the New Hampshire Uniform Trade Secrets Act, RSA chapter 350-B (2009) (UTSA). Vention cross-appealed the trial court’s denial of its request for attorney’s fees. Vention is a medical components manufacturer in the medical device industry. Vention makes medical balloons, medical tubing, and heat shrink tubing (HST). Pappas began working at Vention after he graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a bachelor of science degree in plastics engineering and a master’s degree in innovative and technological entrepreneurship. Prior to working at Vention, Pappas had neither specifically studied HST nor had any experience working with HST. In December 2013, after working for Vention for about ten years, Pappas resigned from the company. During his employment, Pappas was exposed to Vention’s confidential HST technology and information. He also had knowledge of Vention’s business and marketing information and strategies, including the sales volumes for Vention’s various products. At the time he resigned, he was serving as the engineering manager of the HST department. At some point before Pappas resigned, he consulted with an attorney about his obligations under the confidentiality agreement. Almost immediately after leaving Vention, Pappas established Ascend. In late December 2013 and January 2014, the defendants began working with a website developer, communicated with one equipment vendor, and provided an initial machine design to a second equipment vendor. This design included extensive detail and critical specifications of the equipment they wanted built. By August 2014, the defendants began actively marketing HST. After the defendants launched their HST line, Vention requested information about the products. The defendants sent Vention samples of their HST in August and September 2014. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found the trial court determined that the defendants neither willfully and maliciously misappropriated Vention’s trade secrets nor made a bad-faith claim of misappropriation, and there was support in the record for these determinations. Based upon its review of Vention’s arguments and the record, the Supreme Court could not say it was “clearly untenable” or “clearly unreasonable” for the trial court to decline to award fees for bad faith litigation. Accordingly, the Court found no reversible error and affirmed the Superior Court. View "Vention Medical Advanced Components, Inc. v. Pappas" on Justia Law

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Defendants, Nikolaos Pappas and Ascend Medical, Inc. (Ascend), appealed multiple orders of the Superior Court ruling that they misappropriated trade secrets of plaintiff Vention Medical Advanced Components, Inc. d/b/a Advanced Polymers, a Vention Medical Company (Vention), in violation of the New Hampshire Uniform Trade Secrets Act, RSA chapter 350-B (2009) (UTSA). Vention cross-appealed the trial court’s denial of its request for attorney’s fees. Vention is a medical components manufacturer in the medical device industry. Vention makes medical balloons, medical tubing, and heat shrink tubing (HST). Pappas began working at Vention after he graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a bachelor of science degree in plastics engineering and a master’s degree in innovative and technological entrepreneurship. Prior to working at Vention, Pappas had neither specifically studied HST nor had any experience working with HST. In December 2013, after working for Vention for about ten years, Pappas resigned from the company. During his employment, Pappas was exposed to Vention’s confidential HST technology and information. He also had knowledge of Vention’s business and marketing information and strategies, including the sales volumes for Vention’s various products. At the time he resigned, he was serving as the engineering manager of the HST department. At some point before Pappas resigned, he consulted with an attorney about his obligations under the confidentiality agreement. Almost immediately after leaving Vention, Pappas established Ascend. In late December 2013 and January 2014, the defendants began working with a website developer, communicated with one equipment vendor, and provided an initial machine design to a second equipment vendor. This design included extensive detail and critical specifications of the equipment they wanted built. By August 2014, the defendants began actively marketing HST. After the defendants launched their HST line, Vention requested information about the products. The defendants sent Vention samples of their HST in August and September 2014. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found the trial court determined that the defendants neither willfully and maliciously misappropriated Vention’s trade secrets nor made a bad-faith claim of misappropriation, and there was support in the record for these determinations. Based upon its review of Vention’s arguments and the record, the Supreme Court could not say it was “clearly untenable” or “clearly unreasonable” for the trial court to decline to award fees for bad faith litigation. Accordingly, the Court found no reversible error and affirmed the Superior Court. View "Vention Medical Advanced Components, Inc. v. Pappas" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit held that two Federal Trade Commission attorneys were immune from suit for their conduct during an enforcement action against a medical-records company after the company's CEO publicly criticized the FTC about their investigation, where the company's data-security practices made patient records available over public file-sharing. The court held that qualified immunity protected all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law and, even if the attorneys sought to retaliate for the public criticism, their actions did not violate any clearly established right absent plausible allegations that their motive was the but-for cause of the Commission's enforcement action. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to the attorneys. View "Daugherty v. Sheer" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review centered on whether records containing trade secrets were categorically excluded from public disclosure under the Public Records Act (PRA), ch. 42.56 RCW. Respondents Lyft Inc. and Rasier LLC operated car-hailing or "transportation networking companies" (TNC) in several locations, including the city of Seattle (City). After the City passed a 2014 ordinance that limited the number of TNC drivers active at any given time, Lyft and Rasier (collectively L/R) organized a coalition to overturn the ordinance through a voter referendum. In response to mediation among the City, L/R, and taxi and for-hire stakeholders in the ground transportation industry, the referendum proposal was withdrawn. The parties agreed that L/R would submit quarterly standardized reports to the City that include the total number of rides, the percentage of rides completed in each zip code, pick-up and drop-off zip codes, the percentage of rides requested but unfulfilled, collision data, and the number of requested rides for accessible vehicles. In response to L/R concerns regarding data confidentiality, a mediation provision stated that "'[t]he city will work to achieve the highest possible level of confidentiality for information provided within the confines of state law.'' In January 2016, appellant Jeff Kirk, a resident of Texas, submitted a PRA request to the City seeking L/R reports for the final two quarters of 2015. Specifically, Kirk sought release of records submitted by L/R to the City as required by SMC 6.310.540, including the percentage and number of rides picked up in each zip code, and the pick-up and drop-off zip codes of each ride. L/R insisted their quarterly zip code reports to the City consisted of trade secrets protected under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). The Washington Supreme Court held those records were not categorically excluded from disclosure: applying the injunction standard set forth in RCW 42.56.540, such records may be enjoined from disclosure only if disclosure would clearly not be in the public interest, and would substantially and irreparably damage a person or a vital government interest. The superior court erred by applying the general injunction standard of Civil Rule (CR) 65, and by not adequately considering the PRA's more stringent standard. View "Lyft, Inc. v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging Ordinance 124968, which permits independent-contractor drivers, represented by an entity denominated an "exclusive driver representative," and driver coordinators to agree on the "nature and amount of payments to be made by, or withheld from, the driver coordinator to or by the drivers." The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the Chamber's federal antitrust claims because the ordinance sanctions price-fixing of ride-referral service fees by private cartels of independent-contractor drivers. The panel held that the State-action immunity doctrine did not exempt the ordinance from preemption by the Sherman Act because the State of Washington had not clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed a state policy authorizing private parties to price-fix the fees that for-hire drivers pay to companies like Uber or Lyft in exchange for ride-referral services. Furthermore, the active-supervision requirement for state-action immunity applied, and was not met. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Chamber's National Labor Relations Act preemption claims. View "U.S. Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Seattle" on Justia Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 600A.030 does not preclude a defendant from demonstrating that certain information is readily ascertainable and not a trade secret even where the defendant acquired the information through improper means. An employee of Peppermill Casino, Inc. accessed slot machines of a casino owned by MEI-GSR Holdings, LLC (GSR) to obtain their theoretical hold percentage information (par values). GSR filed suit against Peppermill and its employee, asserting violation of Nevada’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The jury returned a special verdict in favor of Peppermill, finding that GSR’s stolen par values did not constitute a trade secret under section 600A.030 because GSR had failed to prove that its par information was not readily ascertainable by proper means. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in instructing the jury concerning trade secrets under section 600A.030; and (2) GSR’s other assignments of error lacked merit. View "MEI-GSR Holding, LLC v. Peppermill Casinos, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under New York law, a plaintiff asserting claims of misappropriation of a trade secret, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment may not recover damages that are measured by the costs the defendant avoided due to its unlawful activity because, under the common law, compensatory damages must return the plaintiff, as nearly as possible, to the position it would have been in had the wrongdoing not occurred, but no more. This case was tried in federal court on three theories of trade secret theft, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the Court of Appeals to resolve three questions of New York’s law relating to damages, specifically, whether, as a matter of law, any plaintiff may recover a defendant’s avoided costs on one or another of these three theories of liability. The Court of Appeals held that, in any of these three actions, a plaintiff may not elect to measure its damages by the defendant’s avoided costs in lieu of its own losses. View "E.J. Brooks Co. v. Cambridge Security Seals" on Justia Law

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Defendant Samer Shami was charged with violating the Tobacco Products Tax Act (TPTA) for possessing, acquiring, transporting, or offering for sale tobacco products with an aggregate wholesale price of $250 or more as a manufacturer without a license in violation of MCL 205.423(1) and MCL 205.428(3). Defendant was the manager of Sam Molasses, a retail tobacco store owned by Sam Molasses, LLC. Investigation revealed that the labels on several plastics tubs of tobacco in the store’s inventory did not match those listed on the invoices from tobacco distributors. Defendant explained that he had mixed two or more flavors of tobacco to create a new “special blend,” which was then placed in the plastic tubs and relabeled. Defendant also explained that he repackaged bulk tobacco from a particular distributor by taking the packets of tobacco out of the boxes, inserting them into metal tins, and placing his own label on the tins, which were then sold at the store. The issue presented in this case for the Michigan Supreme Court's review was whether an individual who combined two different tobacco products to create a new blended product or repackages bulk tobacco into smaller containers with a new label was considered to be a manufacturer of a tobacco product and must have the requisite license. The Court of Appeals held that, in either instance, such a person was a manufacturer. According to that Court, manufacturing simply requires a change from the original state of an object or material into a state that makes it more suitable for its intended use, and a person who changes either the form or delivery method of tobacco constitutes a manufacturer for purposes of the TPTA. Although the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that an individual combining two different tobacco products to create a blended product, relabeling that new mixture, and making it available for sale to the public is a manufacturer of a tobacco product, the Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals that merely repackaging bulk tobacco into smaller containers renders an individual a manufacturer under the TPTA. Therefore, the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals. This case was remanded to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "Michigan v. Shami" on Justia Law