21 April 2020

Fisher & Phillips, Gordon & Rees top US trade secrets litigation firm rankings in 2019

Concept illustration depicting trade secrets

The most active plaintiffs over the past decade have tended to be insurance and financial companies

Total amount of damages awarded last year rises by almost half to $105m, Lex Machina report shows

Fisher & Phillips and Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani were the most active US trade secret litigation firms for plaintiffs and defendants last year, according to Lex Machina’s 2020 Trade Secret Litigation Report.

Fisher & Phillips was the top plaintiffs’ firm with 33 cases, while Gordon & Rees was the top defendants’ firm with 14 cases, the data showed. While the overall number of cases where damages were awarded dropped to a joint-decade low of 15, the total amount paid out climbed to $105m, 46% higher than in 2018.

“The most active law firms in the trade secret practice area tend to be law firms known for their employment practices,” the report stated. “Because trade secret cases often involve an employee who left the company, it makes sense that the company would then call its employment firm, which may have written the company’s employment agreements or handbook.”

Lex Machina said the most active plaintiffs over the past decade have tended to be insurance and financial companies. The busiest plaintiff in 2019 was DiscoverOrg Data, a sales intelligence software company, which sued parties who gained unauthorised access to its database.

Jackson Lewis was the second most active plaintiffs’ firm, with 25 cases. It was followed by Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart (23), Littler Mendelson (20) and Seyfarth Shaw (19). Littler Mendelson was also the most active over the past decade, working on 239 cases, almost 50 more than Ogletree, which was the second most active.

Ogletree was also the second most active defendants’ firm in 2019, with 14 cases. It was followed by Jackson Lewis (12), Foley & Lardner (11), and Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing (10). The most active over the past decade was Ogletree, taking on 122 case filings. 

Plaintiffs won in 15% of cases in 2019, compared to an average of 13% since 2010. The majority of those wins were resolved with a consent judgment. Defendants won in 4% of cases last year, compared to an average of 3% for the previous decade. Those tended to come from judgment on the pleadings, which usually indicates the court found that there was no trade secrets protection, according to the report.

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