Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke is a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. Ms. Luedtke’s practice focuses on complex business litigation, with a particular emphasis on intellectual property matters. Ms. Luedtke is the go-to litigator and counselor on her client’s most sensitive issues. She has been named among California's “Top Women Lawyers” by the Daily Journal three times, including in 2017. She twice has been named to The Recorder’s Women Leaders in Technology Law list, including also in 2017. In 2012, the Daily Journal named her one of the top 20 attorneys under 40. Within the firm, Ms. Luedtke is co-chair of the firm’s Recruiting Committee.
Trade Secret and Employee Mobility
Ms. Luedtke has significant experience in trade secret matters, both in situations involving employee mobility, where individuals move from one competitor to another, and in cases involving allegations of trade secret theft in connection with business relationships, non-disclosure agreements, due diligence and partnerships. Ms. Luedtke also has an active practice counseling clients on trade secret protection plans, as well as conducting investigations into the potential theft of trade secret information. Among her most noteworthy cases in this area, she has represented:
- Ten-X in obtaining a preliminary injunction against a former executive and a competitor based on allegations of trade secret misappropriation, breach of an Invention Assignment Agreement, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of confidentiality agreement.
- Air Lease Corporation in resolving allegations of trade secret theft, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary and unfair competition relating to the formation of the company by Steven Udvar-Hazy after he retired from competitor ILFC, a subsidiary of AIG.
- A major technology company in litigation involving allegations of theft of trade secrets and confidential information through due diligence discussions that ultimately did not result in a partnership or purchase.
- ABC in defeating an effort by CBS to enjoin the reality show “The Glass House” based on, among other things, allegations that the producers of “The Glass House” took trade secrets about reality television production from their former employment at CBS working on its show “Big Brother.”
- Playdom in litigation brought by Zynga over the hiring of 11 former Zynga employees and the alleged theft of ideas for new games, as well as Zynga’s alleged “secret sauce” for social gaming.
- Argon ST Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, in obtaining summary judgment on trade secret claims related to power amplifier technology in satellite technology.
- Rambus in obtaining summary judgment on breach of fiduciary duty and breach of confidence allegations brought by Samsung in connection with Rambus’ employment of a former Samsung in-house counsel and allegations that he misappropriated secret patent prosecution strategies to use at Rambus. Through these claims, Samsung had sought an offset of more than $400 million damages against patent infringement damages.
- Microsoft in defending against trade secret theft allegations related to advanced technology in computer mice.
- A major packaged goods company in obtaining a stipulated injunction and ultimately achieving a favorable settlement in trade secret litigation against a competitor and former employee for the theft of information.
- A top Silicon Valley technology executive in obtaining a favorable settlement in litigation over the enforceability of a non-competition agreement, allowing the executive to commence work at a new job.
- Abbott Laboratories in pursuing lawsuits against three employees for downloading confidential documents upon their departure and for breach of non-solicitation agreements.
Ms. Luedtke is a frequent speaker at law schools, industry conferences and continuing legal education seminars on the issues that can arise in connection with trade secrets.
Taking Complex Civil Litigation To Trial
Ms. Luedtke has extensive experience taking complex commercial litigation cases to trial and arbitration. Among her noteworthy trials, she represented:
- Jacobs Engineering in 2016 and obtained court ruling in Jacobs’ favor after an extensive bench trial.
- NCAA in a highly publicized trial brought by a certified class of current and former Division I college football and men’s basketball players who asserted antitrust and intellectual property claims relating to NCAA rules that preclude student-athletes from being paid for the alleged use of their name, image and likeness.
- A leading aircraft manufacturer in a confidential arbitration over contractual rights to certain aircraft technology.
- Rambus in multiple jury and bench trials in federal court, including a jury trial victory on antitrust claims that was named the Daily Journal’s top defense verdict of 2008.
Ms. Luedtke regularly advises clients in significant copyright litigation. For instance, she successfully represented the Motion Picture Association of America and its member studios in securing an injunction shutting down Zediva, an unauthorized service that streamed movies from a warehouse of “rented” DVDs. Ms. Luedtke also has won numerous copyright cases for companies in the videogame industry.
A significant part of Ms. Luedtke’s practice involves litigation and trade secret and copyright counseling for the top players in the videogame industry, as well as start-up gaming companies looking to understand risks and develop intellectual property protection plans.
Ms. Luedtke’s representation of videogame clients began in 2009 with a high-profile trade secret dispute where she represented Playdom against Zynga’s claims that Playdom took the “playbook” for success in the social game market. She has since represented many major players in the videogame space on a wide variety of matters and is a frequent speaker at conferences and law schools on the application of intellectual property law to the videogame industry.
Among Ms. Luedtke’s other significant videogame industry matters, she represented:
- Activision Blizzard in defense of right of publicity claims brought by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega in which he claimed that his depiction as a minor character in “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” violated his right of publicity and California’s unfair competition statute.
- Electronic Arts in copyright infringement action against Zynga in a case involving EA’s successful Sims franchise.
- Playdom in source code copyright allegations brought by Zynga that settled on the eve of trial.
- Vostu in defense of multiple copyright infringement claims brought by Zynga in Brazil and in a declaratory relief action brought by Vostu in the Northern District of California. At the time, Vostu was South America’s largest social gaming company.
- Green Patch in defense of source code copyright infringement claims brought by Zynga.