A few years ago, I became curious to see how many reported trade secret / noncompete decisions were issued each year in all federal and state courts around the country. So, I did a “back of the envelope” calculation. I have performed similar calculations several times since.
Over the years, I have varied the graph, typically showing two things: (1) either just reported noncompete decisions or just reported trade secret decisions and (2) how whichever category I had picked (noncompete decisions or trade secret decisions) compared with all reported decisions involving either or both trade secrets and noncompetes.
Earlier this year, I decided to do all three. (See here.)
Recently, I reran just the trade secrets cases. (I will be rerunning the remaining numbers soon, and will post the chart once I do.)
While additional reported decisions had been added to Westlaw’s database for most years, all increases except 2012 were merely marginal increases. The reported 2012 decisions (as predicted) increased significantly (52 cases). (As I have explained in the past, each time I run the queries, the results have varied slightly (inching up), which I attribute to Westlaw’s addition of cases over time. Consistent with that, the older the data, the less it moves. And, each time I’ve run this inquiry at the beginning of the year (as I did most recently), the most recent year has been way underreported. I suspect that it has something to do with how Westlaw updates its database.)
As in the past, the numbers show a trending up of trade secrets litigation, though that trend reversed this year – though you would not know it from the number of cases in the news. I will reserve judgment on that final conclusion until I’ve run these numbers again in another year or two, to avoid any prejudice from the swing caused by the newness of the data.
If you’d like to take a closer look at the numbers, you can click the image above.
Please note that the most current version of both the 50 State Noncompete Chart and 50 state and federal survey chart of trade secret laws can always be found on my firm’s resources page.