Mass Law Blog

Do Androids Dream …

by | Nov 6, 2007

As the lawyer drifts off to sleep the fantasy of the “perfect” IP case drifts across his mind. Not a patent case (way, way too complicated), not a copyright case (too boring if straightforward, and too difficult if not) ), not a trademark case (surveys, secondary meaning, no thanks), but a straightforward, meat and potatoes, trade secret case: there is a trade secret, and someone stole it, case over.

The lawyer falls asleep thinking about the perfect case, a big case, but a realtively easy case. After all, most cases are so hard, everyone deserves an easy case once in a while, right?

Robotic FXIn the lawyer’s dream a former former employee of the lawyer’s client (lets call the employee him Jameel Ahed, or simply Mr. Ahed) has started a competitive company. The client has obtained the competitive product, taken it apart, and concluded that Mr. Ahed very likely used the client’s trade secrets to create the product. The lawyer files suit, and hires private investigators to follow and observe Mr. Ahed after the lawsuit is served on him.

A thought drifts through the lawyer’s dreams – the stakes, the stakes need to be high, very high for this to be a good case. His unconscious mind provides the answer: his client and Mr. Ahed’s company are competing for a $280 million contract to sell “tactical robots” to the U.S. military, to be used to detect and disable improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”) in Iraq and Afghanistan. If he can prove trade secret misappropriation his client will clinch the contract. Robots, war, the security of U.S. troops, big dollars, what could be better than that?

In the dream, the very same day that Mr. Ahed’s new company is served with the trade secret suit the investigators observe Mr. Ahed gathering 100 backup and archival CD-ROMs and several hard drives, which contain designs of his company’s product, as well as other key equipment. Mr. Ahed puts these items in a duffel bag, and the next day puts them in a dumpster, from which the lawyer’s investigators immediately recover them as evidence. In fact, Mr. Ahed makes several trips between his office and the dumpster, and the investigators follow him, unseen.

Mr. Ahed doesn’t discard the CD-ROMs, however. Instead, he purchases a shredder, which he uses to destroy them. In fact, when the first shredder jams, he quickly purchases a second shredder in order to finish the job.

Mr. Ahed also purchases a drive scrubber, which he uses to obliterate data on the laptop computer he has owned since he was employed by the client. The next day, he uses the scrubber on several computers at his company’s offices.

All of this is observed by the lawyer’s private investigators.

As the lawyer falls into REM sleep his dreams become even more vivid: he obtains a court order that allows him, protected by U.S. Marshals and computer forensic experts, to enter Mr. Ahed’s company’s office and his home and seize evidence. As they enter Mr. Ahed’s apartment his laptop computer screen shows that its data has been destroyed by the drive scrubbing software program and Mr. Ahed is observed trying to hide this computer under his bed. The laptop is found, opened, and the screen is photographed as evidence.

The lawyer goes to court seeking a preliminary injunction. He gets a smart, hard working and conscientious federal judge, Judge Nancy Gertner. Judge Gertner holds a four day hearing on the injunction. Mr. Ahed’s credibility is totally destroyed by reason of his actions, and the judge refuses to believe anything he says. The judge enters an injunction that disqualifies Mr. Ahed’s company from obtaining the military contract. The lawyer’s client get the contract.

The lawyer wakes up. It’s 3:00 in the morning. All of the problems waiting for him at work, large and small, collide in his brain. All of the bad cases, the hard cases, the dog cases, the cases he lost but should have won, drift through his mind. His dream, the greatest victory of his life, the “easy one,” fades fast. In the morning, when he wakes up, he’s completely forgotten the dream. It’s cold and raining outside and he’s exhausted from a poor night’s sleep. Groaning, he drags himself out of bed to face the commute.

This could never happen, right? Click the image …..