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Tackling international trade secret cases

Logistics and perseverance are key to prevailing against foreign companies.

Online Exclusive: Protecting your trade secrets in facilities abroad

Imagine an American tourist, camera in hand, standing in the middle of a bustling bazaar in a foreign country. The inherent energy of the distant land she is visiting charms and intrigues her as she happily snaps photos of unfamiliar goods in the lively marketplace, where people are speaking a language she doesn’t understand but finds beautiful.

Nabbing Thieves

Amsted owns a secret process for manufacturing steel railway wheels. In the past,  the company has licensed its process to Chinese manufacturers. But in 2005, one  Chinese company, TianRui Group Co. Ltd., was unable to successfully negotiate a license with Amsted to use the process, and subsequently poached employees from one of Amsted’s licensees. The pilfered workers disclosed Amsted’s secret process to TianRui, which used it to make wheels imported to the U.S. 

Next, legal teams must focus on the logistical basics, such as obtaining the appropriate visas for traveling abroad and hiring interpreters, whom lawyers should prepare for depositions. 

“Parties should work together to come up with a glossary of terms so that interpreters are comfortable with the names, places and other words that will come up in the course of a deposition,” says Pelletier, who represented Amsted in the Federal Circuit case. Additionally, he says, lawyers should consult with interpreters before depositions to check whether certain words or phrases in their questions won’t translate well. “You really need to retrain your questioning and the vocabulary that you’re going to be using. You need to ask specific, precise, short questions.”

Ashley Post

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