Laura Smolowe on California’s Nuanced Trade Secrets Law

Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP litigator Laura D. Smolowe published an article on trade secrets practice in California in Law360. “Understanding Calif.’s Nuanced Trade Secrets Law” explores the particularities of the practice, an important and expanding area of the law because of California’s critical role in the emerging global economy.

“Trade secrets practice in California is an outlier,” notes the piece, “despite the fact that” the state is one of 47 states that has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). In California, it is not enough to rely on other states’ constructions of the UTSA. Ms. Smolowe explains that this distinctiveness arises out of the notably strong protection California affords for the rights of employees to practice their professions in a manner of their choosing, even if that means competing against former employers.
Ms. Smolowe notes that the particularities of California law have important implications for practitioners, especially those accustomed to working with the UTSA in other states. In California, plaintiffs must do more to ensure they have sufficient evidence of actual or threatened misappropriation. “For example,” she writes, “they may need to rely on employee exit interviews or forensic examination of former employees’ computers to establish the taking of employer information.” Conversely, defendants in California have at their disposal several additional tools to help narrow or dispose of the case at an early stage.
Ms. Smolowe is a litigator whose practice is focused on complex commercial litigation in state and federal court. She has special expertise in the area of trade secrets and employee mobility.