On December 2, 2012, he 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York issued a decision that Reuters said “may make it easier for US companies to crack down on alleged computer theft that occurs in remote locations, including outside the country.” Reversing a lower court ruling, the appeals court said American chemical company MacDermid Inc could pursue civil damages claims against a former Toronto-area employee under Connecticut state law, even though she alleged illegal activity occurred from her home in Fort Erie, Ontario.
According to Reuters, former MacDermid account manager Jackie Deiter worked for the Waterbury, Connecticut-based company’s MacDermid Chemicals unit in Mississauga, Ontario, from May 2008 until her termination in April 2011 for reasons unrelated to the lawsuit. MacDermid accused Deiter of violating Connecticut laws on unauthorized computer access and misappropriating trade secrets by emailing customer data, laboratory reports and pricing lists taken from the Connecticut server. Reuters reported that the activity occurred soon after Deiter learned she was about to be fired. Deiter admitted to emailing materials, but claimed it was done for her job and because she could not print at home from her employer-issued laptop.
In November 2011, US District Judge Warren Eginton said that he had no jurisdiction over the company’s lawsuit because Deiter had merely emailed information “from one computer in Canada to another computer in Canada.” However, the appeals court’s unanimous three-judge panel said MacDermid’s server was a computer under Connecticut law, and it did not matter that Deiter had accessed it from outside the state. Reuters also noted, “The 2nd Circuit has jurisdiction in Connecticut, New York and Vermont. It is among the more influential federal appeals courts, and other circuits often follow its reasoning.”
While this lawsuit was based more on Connecticut’s trade secret statute than the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the decision could indeed benefit many American companies seeking legal recourse for trade secret theft activity that occurs outside the country. You can find more information about trade secrets litigation on our website. If you or your company has been the victim of such infringement, contact our firm at (323) 653-3900 or complete the form on his page to let our Los Angeles trade secrets lawyer review your case.
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