View from the Courtroom: What to Expect When You Try to Get a TRO in Your Unfair Competition Case

IPWatchdog

Steven R. Blackburn, a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s San Francisco office, authored an article in IPWatchdog, titled “View from the Courtroom: What to Expect When You Try to Get a TRO in Your Unfair Competition Case.”

Following is an excerpt:

Experience shows that most unfair competition or trade secret theft issues can be resolved without the need for litigation; often, an exchange of letters between the parties’ respective attorneys is sufficient to resolve the matter. However, litigation is sometimes unavoidable, and when it occurs, the employers involved are often surprised by how fast an unfair competition case can move to a practical conclusion, and how little time there might be to prepare for the crucial court hearing.

The most important event in a trade secret or unfair competition litigation is the hearing when the court grants or denies a temporary restraining order, or “TRO.” A TRO is essentially an emergency injunction to prevent the wrongdoing party from taking advantage of his or her illegal activities. The process begins with the filing of a complaint that looks essentially no different than any other lawsuit. The claims are usually pleaded under theories like “conversion” (i.e., theft), fraud, breach of contract, or violations of state and federal trade secret statutes. The difference is that the parties will typically find themselves before a judge in only days, or perhaps only hours after the lawsuit is filed for a hearing that will, for all practical purposes, resolve the case. This is the TRO hearing.