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Professor Seaman Interviewed by Law360 on Trade Secrets Law

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Prof. Christopher Seaman

Prof. Christopher Seaman

Washington and Lee Law professor Christopher Seaman was interviewed recently by Law360.   Professor Seaman, along with David S. Levine, Elon University and Sharon Sandeen, Hamline University discuss their arguments against passing the Trade Secrets Protection Act (in the U.S. House of Representatives) or the Defend Trade Secrets Act (in the U.S. Senate.)

Read the full article here.

Read Professor Seaman’s study The Case Against Federalizing Trade Secrecy here.

Prof. Seaman Presents at Vanderbilt IP Scholars Roundtable

May 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Prof. Christopher SeamanWashington and Lee law professor Christopher Seaman presented at the Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Scholars Roundtable on April 24, 2014.  Professor Seaman presented his forthcoming paper “The Case Against Federalizing Trade Secrecy“.  His paper will appear in The Virginia Law Review.

From the abstract:

Trade secrecy is unique among the major intellectual property (IP) doctrines because it is governed primarily by state law. Recently, however, a number of influential actors — including legislators, academics, and organizations representing IP attorneys and owners — have proposed creating a private civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation under federal law. Proponents assert that federalizing trade secrecy would provide numerous benefits, including substantive uniformity, the availability of a federal forum for misappropriation litigation, and the creation of a unified national regime governing IP rights.

This Article engages in the first systematic critique of the claim that federalizing trade secrecy is normatively desirable. Ultimately, it concludes that there are multiple reasons for trade secrecy to remain primarily the province of state law, including preservation of states’ ability to engage in limited experimentation regarding the scope of trade secret protection and federalization’s potential negative impact on the disclosure of patent-eligible inventions. Finally, it proposes an alternative approach — a modest expansion of federal courts’ jurisdiction over state law trade secret claims — that can help address the issue of trade secret theft without requiring outright federalization.

 

Prof. Seaman Featured on SSRN Top 10 List

March 18, 2014 Leave a comment
Prof. Seaman

Prof. Seaman

Washington & Lee law professor Christopher Seaman is once again featured on SSRN’s top new papers lists.  Professor Seaman’s forthcoming piece in the Virginia Law ReviewThe Case Against Federalizing Trade Secrets, is featured on SSRN’s top 10 new papers in the intellectual property subject area.

The paper also appears on top 10 lists in related subject areas and eJournals including Patents, Innovation & Intellectual Property Law & Policy, Innovation Policy Studies and Political Science of Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Law eJournal, Environment for Innovation eJournal, IO: Productivity, Innovation & Technology eJournal, Innovation & Geography eJournal and Innovation Areas eJournals.

Congratulations to Professor Seaman!

Prof. Christopher Seaman to Present at Trade Secret Workshop

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment
Prof. Christopher Seaman

Prof. Christopher Seaman

Washington & Lee law professor Christopher Seaman is invited to present at the 2014 Trade Secret and Information Policy Workshop.  The workshop is hosted by the University of Florida Levin College of Law in Gainesville, Florida on February 28, 2014.  Professor Seaman will present his paper The Case Against Federalizing Trade Secrecy

From the abstract:

Trade secrecy is unique among the major intellectual property (IP) doctrines because it is governed primarily by state law. Recently, however, a number of influential actors — including legislators, academics, and organizations representing IP attorneys and owners — have proposed creating a private civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation under federal law. Proponents assert that federalizing trade secrecy would provide numerous benefits, including substantive uniformity, the availability of a federal forum for misappropriation litigation, and the creation of a unified national regime governing IP rights.

This Article engages in the first systematic critique of the claim that federalizing trade secrecy is normatively desirable. Ultimately, it concludes that there are multiple reasons for trade secrecy to remain primarily the province of state law, including preservation of states’ ability to engage in limited experimentation regarding the scope of trade secret protection and federalization’s potential negative impact on the disclosure of patent-eligible inventions. Finally, it proposes an alternative approach — a modest expansion of federal courts’ jurisdiction over state law trade secret claims — that can help address the issue of trade secret theft without requiring outright federalization.

W&L Law Faculty Ranks High in SSRN Judgments & Liens eJournal

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Congratulations to Professors Christopher Seaman, Susan Franck and Doug Rendleman for their recognition in SSRN’s list of top downloaded papers.

In the Judgments & Liens eJournal Professor Seaman’s article, Willful Patent Infringement and Enhanced Damages After In re Seagate: An Empirical Study, ranks third.   Professor Franck’s article, Rationalizing Costs in Investment Treaty Arbitration, appears  fifth.  Professor Rendleman’s brief Scholars’ Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Support of Neither Party: Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (with D. Laycock and M. Gergen) ranks seventh among recently posted papers.

Professor Chris Seaman Publishes Article in Yale JOLT

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment
Prof. Seaman

Prof. Seaman

W&L Law Professor Christopher Seaman has just published a piece in Yale’s Journal of Law and Technology entitled Best Mode Trade Secrets (co-authored with Brian Love).  Here is the abstract:

Trade secrecy and patent rights traditionally have been considered mutually exclusive. Trade secret rights are premised on secrecy. Without it, they evaporate. Patent rights, on the other hand, require public disclosure. Absent a sufficiently detailed description of the invention, patents are invalid. However, with the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) last fall, this once black-and-white distinction may melt into something a little more gray. Buried amidst myriad tweaks to the Patent Act is one that has the potential to substantially change the boundary between patent and trade secret protection. For the first time since at least 1952 (and as a practical matter since 1870), an inventor’s failure to disclose in her patent the preferred method for carrying out the invention—the so-called “best mode”—will no longer invalidate her patent rights or otherwise render them unenforceable. In this brief Essay, we explain why it may become routine post-patent reform for patentees to attempt to assert both patent rights and trade secret rights for preferred embodiments of their invention in certain types of cases. We also consider potentially undesirable ramifications of this change and suggest one approach that courts may use to limit claims of concurrent trade secret and patent protection when equity demands.

You may download the piece by visiting http://yjolt.org/best-mode-trade-secrets.

Professor Christopher Seaman to Present at Stanford’s Conference on Empirical Legal Studies

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Prof. Christopher Seaman

W&L Law Professor Christopher Seaman will be presenting his forthcoming article at the Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS) at Stanford Law School.  His paper is entitled Standards of Proof in Civil Litigation: An Experiment from Patent Law and will be published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.  The paper may be downloaded by visiting SSRN.  The full conference schedule is available at the SLS CELS website.  Here is the abstract of the paper:

Standards of proof are widely assumed to matter in litigation. They operate to allocate the risk of error between litigants, as well as to indicate the relative importance attached to the ultimate decision. But despite their perceived importance, there have been relatively few empirical studies testing jurors’ comprehension and application of standards of proof, particularly in civil litigation.

Patent law recently presented an opportunity to assess the potential impact of varying the standard of proof in civil cases. In Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Limited Partnership, the Supreme Court held that a patent’s presumption of validity can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. However, it also explained that the jury should be instructed that it may be easier to satisfy this standard when the party challenging the patent’s validity offered evidence that was not previously been considered by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

In this project, we conducted an experimental study to test the impact of standards of proof in patent invalidity challenges. We found that delivering the jury instruction directed by the i4i decision resulted in mock jurors finding a patent invalid at rates statistically indistinguishable from the preponderance of the evidence standard explicitly rejected by the Court in that case. This surprising result suggests that Microsoft may have actually achieved its desired outcome in i4i by making it easier for juries to invalidate questionable patents, even though it lost the case.

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