Photo of John Gray

Computer forensic information often becomes an issue in trade secret cases, as computer artifacts or other electronic information (such as on external hard drives, cell phones, etc.) can sometimes prove or disprove whether a person accessed, used, transferred, or destroyed trade secret material. If the parties or the judge determines that the computer forensic information is relevant, the next key question is how much needs to be exchanged and what limitations will be in place. The producing party often will argue that computers include numerous irrelevant files and artifacts, privileged communications, and private information that should not be subject to discovery. One middle ground is to use a neutral examiner, in which the electronic data is never handed directly to the opposing party. Instead, a neutral computer expert will field requests and/or create reports of the pertinent data.
Continue Reading Chinese Self-Driving Car Company Must Make Its Source Code Available in Lawsuit Against Tesla but Only Through a Neutral Examiner

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Alleged spoliation of evidence is unfortunately a somewhat common feature of many trade secret misappropriation cases. A recent district court order out of the Northern District of California, WeRide Corp. v. Kun Huang, highlighted just how serious the penalty for spoliation can be. No. 5:18-CV-07233-EJD, 2020 WL 1967209 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 24, 2020).

In WeRide, the defendant deleted entire email accounts, failed to disable its email server’s setting that automatically deleted all emails older than 90 days, and deleted relevant source code even after the court entered a preliminary injunction specifically enjoining the parties from destroying relevant documents. Taking into account the vast quantity of data deleted, along with the willful nature of the spoliation, the court granted sanctions of default, striking the defendants’ answers and directing judgment for the plaintiff.
Continue Reading The Northern District of California Reminds Everyone How Serious Spoliation Sanctions Can Be