Emerging Technologies, Privacy and the Internet

The lawyers working in the areas of emerging technologies, privacy and the Internet at Munger, Tolles & Olson provide litigation and counseling services on a wide range of issues arising from today’s information economy. We have represented technology, content and media companies in tackling cutting-edge legal issues involving an array of emerging technologies, including social networking and Web 2.0 technologies, mobile device software applications, social gaming websites and cloud computing. 

Particular Areas of Focus

Privacy and Data Protection:  With the rise of social networking technologies and companies’ increasing focus on personalizing consumer experiences in the online sphere, privacy and data protection today are important issues to numerous industries. Munger Tolles lawyers have deep expertise in various laws concerning online privacy and information security, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. We have been at the forefront of several cases in this area, including representing: 

  • HTC in nationwide consumer class actions concerning its alleged installation and use of data collection software on its smart phone devices.
  • University of California against claims of the unauthorized disclosure of patients’ personal medical information stemming from an Internet hack of university computer servers. 
  • Verizon Wireless in nationwide class actions alleging telecommunications industry involvement in alleged National Security Agency antiterrorist electronic surveillance programs.

Our attorneys also routinely counsel companies and non-profits on privacy policies and practices, including data mobility issues involving the transfer of user data in a manner consistent with federal and state privacy laws. 

Intellectual Property Rights:  Internet technologies pose numerous challenges and opportunities for rights holders. Munger Tolles has been involved in a number of high-profile matters involving the complex intersection of new technological developments and intellectual property law. Our lawyers also have provided extensive counseling to rights holders regarding the implications of new technologies, such as cloud computing. Recent matters include representing: 

  • Microsoft against device manufacturer Datel, alleging copyright infringement of the Xbox 360’s source code and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act stemming from Datel’s circumvention of the Xbox 360’s technological protection measures. 
  • Vostu, Brazil’s market leader in social gaming, against claims of copyright violations by Zynga in both the U.S. and Brazil.
  • Leading social gaming company Playdom against claims of copyright infringement of source code by Zynga.
  • The six motion picture studio members of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), in securing an injunction against the operators of Zediva, an unlicensed video-on-demand service that transmits performances of copyrighted motion pictures to Zediva customers through the Internet.
  • Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group in gaining a permanent injunction to shut down one of the most pervasive online file-copying services — LimeWire — and obtained a $105 million settlement in the midst of a damages trial.

We routinely counsel companies on Internet-related licensing work, including licensing celebrity brands to Internet startups and licensing digital music technologies to technology consortiums. We also guide clients with respect to trademark domain name cyber squatting cease and desist letters.

Trade Secret and Employment Mobility:  The protection of trade secrets is increasingly important in the technology sector, where skilled employees are in high demand and highly mobile. Munger Tolles lawyers have provided leading companies and start-ups with highly specialized counseling and litigation services related to trade secret law, non-solicitation agreements, non-competition agreements, and invention-assignment agreements. Recent representations of clients in the emerging technology and Internet sector include representing:

  • Playdom, in litigation brought by Zynga over the hiring of nine former Zynga employees and the alleged theft of ideas for new games as well as Zynga’s “secret sauce” for social gaming.
  • Argon ST, a subsidiary of Boeing, in litigation brought by a subcontractor related to power amplifier technology in a satellite system and obtained summary judgment on trade secret cause of action.
  • Microsoft in a misappropriation of trade secret case wherein Avago alleged that its former employee stole ideas for specular LED technology.
  • A high level Silicon Valley executive in litigation over the enforceability of a non-competition agreement. We obtained a favorable settlement that allowed executive to commence work at new job. 

Often our most successful representations in this area are those that we cannot list here. We frequently advise companies − small and large − on how to protect against the loss of trade secrets, and how to prevent accusations that the company took trade secrets. We design “on-boarding” and “out-boarding” procedures for clients and work with them on their adoption. We also advise clients who have lost important employees to competitors and help assess their options to protect against the future use of confidential or trade secret information. On the flip side, we conduct internal investigations for clients who believe an employee may have brought trade secret information from a prior employer into the client. For all of these matters, we take great pride in resolving potential problems for our clients before they reach litigation.

Contact:
Jonathan H. Blavin (415) 512-4011G
Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke (415) 512-4000
Kristin Linsley Myles (415) 512-4022
Rosemarie T. Ring (415) 512-4008