Misuse of Trade Secrets
In response to your editorial (“Since When Is News a Crime?” Aug. 17):
Your editorial regarding the criminal tracing of calls to the Wall Street Journal suggests that this kind of conduct occurs only in Cincinnati. The same kind of misuse of criminal trade secrets statutes can happen in Los Angeles, and indeed, has.
Our client resigned his position with his employer when he learned that his employer’s business practices included systematic fraud against various municipalities throughout Southern California with whom this employer had business dealings. The employer, an individual with close ties to key political figures, was able to induce the Los Angeles County district attorney to charge our client with a supposed theft of “trade secrets,” i.e., the very documentary evidence which proved the former employer’s fraudulent conduct.
In an outrageous incident of abuse and exploitation of raw power, our client was subjected to a criminal search and seizure of not only the software he had supposedly copied, but a seizure of all of his accounting records and property, even his computer equipment, which was critically necessary to his new auction business.
We sought dismissal of this absurd criminal prosecution on the theory that no such criminal action should have been allowed on such specious grounds. We proved this employer’s unlawful conduct in the context of a whistle-blower suit which uncovered the fraud he had perpetrated against various local governmental entities. Then the former employer settled with the attorney general’s office, and after two years of wrongfully withholding our client’s property, we forced the district attorney to return it.
After the district attorney’s case fell apart, we still had to go back to court six times to obtain the release and return of our client’s equipment. Our client’s business was effectively destroyed. If any action should be taken by a corporate entity supposedly in protection of its “trade secrets,” it should be a civil action (which was the route we followed in vindicating the harm done to our client).