Rarely do we hear about trade secret theft and misappropriation in the food industry. It happens! Read about this high profile case involving a famous food celebrity chef!
America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) sues Christopher Kimball for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
Here is another example of trade secret theft. Check out this blog to see how business and personal emails played a role in the misappropriation of trade secrets. Yes, there is trade secret theft in the food industry!
Who isn’t a fan of cooking shows?
Have you ever watched American’s Test Kitchen (ATK) on public television? In addition to the show, ATK is a multimedia company that has holdings in public television programs such as America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Country, cooking magazines and books, and several websites? Who knew? We love watching celebrity chefs like Christopher Kimball and other specialized professionals test the great American recipes like meatloaf, roast chicken, and apple pie!
Trade Secret Missappropriation Lawsuit or Foodie Divorce?
Christopher Kimball was the face and personality behind America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country. In November 2015, Kimball left ATK’s program and started his own program called Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. When two parties split it’s called a divorce, well, you guessed it, ATK sued Christopher Kimball, the co-founder, part owner, celebrity chef, and the former host of its TV shows. Almost a year later, America’s Test Kitchen Inc. filed a lawsuit on October 31, 2016, as the Plaintiff. They wanted Kimball to change his business model. We call this a foodie divorce.
ATK said Kimball duplicated what he did on the show on Milk Street and that he misappropriated its trade secrets and breached his fiduciary duty to the company. In addition, they claimed that while Kimball was working at ATK as he actively created his new company Milk Street. According to ATK, Kimball stole its collection of recipes, TV show ideas, media contacts, and subscriber information. As a result, ATK sought damages against Kimball and wanted a large sum of all profits that he has derived through the use of the trade secrets he allegedly misappropriated from America’s Test Kitchen. Other defendants named were Melissa Baldino, Kimball’s wife and a former executive director of ATK, Christine Gordon, and Deborah Broide. ATK claimed they aided and abetted Kimball’s breach of his fiduciary duties.
Non-Compete Agreement between ATK and Kimball
It seems that ATK and Kimball did not have a formal non-compete agreement in place. To protect intellectual property, corporations use a non-compete agreement where the employee agrees not to enter into competition with the employer during or after employment. If an employee departs and takes intellectual property without permission that’s considered trade secret theft and misappropriation.
It’s all in the Email!
This case is an example of where most evidence of trade secret misappropriation can be found. It’s all in the email! A variety of emails were attached to the complaint that included notes between Gordon and real estate brokers, between Kimball and an IT consultant covering such issues as how to copy and store tons of recipes. There were emails discovered between Broide and Kimball regarding the media lists; between Gordon and the ATK help desk about whether company scanners would keep copies of documents she scanned.
The Foodie Divorce finally settled!
To all our fellow foodies the good news is that both parties settled. Kimball agreed to return his ATK shares to the company for an undisclosed price. In the end, they agreed to business terms that will allow America’s Test Kitchen and Kimball’s company, Milk Street to co-exist. Giving us foodies the benefit of watching both shows!
Enigma Forensics is a computer forensic company with litigation experts that partner with attorneys to represent plaintiffs and defendants to help prove their case. We dig for evidence of trade secret theft or misappropriation of intellectual property. Most of all we are foodies! We found this story about trade secret theft and misappropriation in the food industry fascinating and wanted to share.
Forensic Experts Lee Neubecker and Cat Casey from DISCO discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI) as it relates to improving Legal technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) thinks, learns and problem solves more efficiently than humans. AI is all around us and in almost everything we touch, it is an algorithm that is designed to make our lives easier and is sometimes referred to as machine learning.
In the case of litigation, it can save time and money by streamlining the process of document review, eDiscovery, and preparation for forensic cases. Computer Forensic Expert, Lee Neubecker and Catherine “Cat” Casey who is the Chief Innovation Officer for DISCO discuss how AI works to improve legal technology.
DISCO is a leader in legal technology is a developer of a cloud-native eDiscovery software for law firms designed to automate and simplify error-prone tasks. They provide a myriad of different types of analytics that will supercharge searching data dramatically reducing time and money.
Part 1 of our Three-Part Series on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The Video Transcript Follows.
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, I’m here today with Cat Casey from CS DISCO. Thanks for being on the show.
Cat Casey (CC): My pleasure.
LN: We’re going to talk a little about artificial intelligence as it relates to eDiscovery and document review. Cat, can you tell us just a little bit about what your firm does to help speed up the review process and lower costs for clients.
CC: Absolutely, we’re a cloud-native AI-powered eDiscovery company. And what that means is we’ve got vast amounts of elastic computational power that we can use to run a myriad of different types of analytics on data to supercharge your searching and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to get to that key actionable evidence. So, we’ve kind of flipped everything on its head. Instead of being a question of how quickly can I read through all of this data, it’s how laparoscopically can I surgically find all of that key information. The results that we’re seeing are pretty resounding. Up to 60% reduction in time to get to that key evidence. Freeing up attorneys to get back to what they went to school for, the practice of law. It’s pretty compelling. We’ve had some pretty interesting additions, including even today, we just announced, I think, the first true AI in eDiscovery with AI model sharing. Basically, with each iteration, with each type of case that you conduct with DISCO, our algorithms are getting smarter. We’re extracting insights and building in more robust taxonomy and analytic structure to parse data, which is going to yield better and better results for our clients. It’s truly exciting.
LN: So we’ve come a long way from the early days when the attorneys wanted everything printed and Bates-labeled before they looked at it. To now, moving ahead using TAR, technology-assisted review, like artificial intelligence, which fits into that, correct?
CC: 100%, we have a continual active learning model, so it’s more reinforcement learning than a standard supervised learning model. Basically, from the coding of document one, our algorithm’s getting smarter and making recommendations on highly likely to be similar documents. We battle test the algorithm on an ongoing basis. Whether it is an affirmative or a negative for a suggested document, the algorithm learns more, and because of that, we prioritize the most relevant information quickly and people are able to then accelerate their review speeds by up to, I think we’ve had over 180 docs per hour. So, it’s pretty compelling and this is just the beginning.
LN: So your platform’s all in the cloud, correct? So companies or law firms, they need no infrastructure other than a browser?
CC: 100%, the nice thing, in my prior life, I ran a global discovery program, and I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just to keep pace, just to have storage, just to have basic replication and back up, and all of that. Now, even a small firm, all the way up to an Am Law One firm or a massive Fortune One company, they can have the same robust technology without having to set up a data center, without having to invest a ton of money. It lets everyone level up and has a better experience throughout the discovery process.
LN: One of the challenges a lot of my clients always have is they have a need to understand what the costs are going to be and to be able to communicate to their clients those expectations so they’re not throwing their clients on the eDiscovery rollercoaster of non-controllable bills. How does DISCO help to address those concerns?
CC: Transparency is a major pain point. One of the banes of my existence used to be trying to normalize this pricing model versus this, versus this service provider, versus this technology. We just throw that all out. We charge one flat amount per gig. It includes analytics. It includes processing. It includes everything, and we work with you to get the volume of data that is being applied to that one flat cost per gig down. It eliminates that hide the ball gotcha moment and it gives a lot of transparency. And of course, if someone wants a different model, we’re happy to accommodate that. But in general, straight, simple, honest. It’s really rewarding for our clients.
LN: So, what cases, what types of litigation case matters do you see as having some of the best benefits of being migrated into your platform?
CC: Yeah, I think any case can. If you’re a tiny company, it helps you be David versus Goliath. Even on a small data volume case, you can start getting insights and reduce the amount of time you’re having to spend doing something maybe you can’t chargeback for. For a big massive case, because we are an AWS and we were built on kind of convolutional neural networking, we’re moving, and we have such a robust computational lift, even we’ve had 150 million documents with hundreds of users and we still have sub one second page to page. We are still lightning fast. And so, whether it’s a big case, a simple case, a complex case, there is a value proposition for almost anyone.
LN: In terms of the types of law firms that are using your platform, do you see many smaller, medium-size firms using your–
CC: Tons, actually tons. That was where we got our teeth. Boutique, we started as a boutique law firm. We actually were a bunch of attorneys that were frustrated that all the tools were terrible, and so they built their own. And so, the foundation of DISCO, we had a family of tons of boutique law firms that we were supporting, we still do to this day. The tool we built though, had a longer vision. It was built to be much bigger and more scalable, and as a result, that’s why you’re seeing us with major, the WilmerHales of the world, very large firms and very large corporations because the tool itself can scale up so much.
LN: Great, what are some of the challenges of working, that law firms find that already have entrenched solutions? There are other review products out there and if they really want to make the benefit of your platform, don’t they have to kind of fully use it for the case?
CC: I would say you probably don’t want to split the baby with a case. If you’re processing with another tool, you’re not going to get the same benefit as working with DISCO. But you don’t have to move your entire litigation portfolio to DISCO day one. We’re seeing a lot of people that are sunsetting Legacy Product and Legacy Platforms moving towards DISCO, but it’s not, “I’m going to move every single case today.” It’s going forward, we’re going to start bringing in new cases. There tends to be such an improved experience and improved UI for the attorneys that they start to not want to use the other technology as much.
LN: I know as a computer forensic expert, oftentimes we’re going out initially collecting and forensically preserving the data. But your product sounds like it would be right for a firm that does forensics that needs to collect different data from computers, possibly harvest just an email. Filter the dates and times of the email to a PST and then they can take those PSTs and upload it into your platform, correct?
CC: 100% and we also, we’ve productized some advanced ECA, where we charge a much, much lower rate. So, you get three months no cost hosting. It’s half the usual rate, and you can do ECA for up to three months. And the goal of that is to let’s whittle down to the most surgical, teeny, tiny, laparoscopic piece of data set that you can have. An example was we had a 20 million document case and we were able to run the ECA, get it down to about 5.6 million documents. Run more coaling, run our analytics, get it down to about 200,000 documents. And usually, that would be when you have to review every single one, but we were able to, with our workflow, with CAL, get it down to 140,000 documents. And so, if you think 50 bucks an hour, an attorney can only do 50 docs an hour, the cost savings is monumental.
LN: So as someone uses your platform and they start to tag and prioritize certain documents, your software learns based on that taking. It helps find related concepts to those conversations and what not?
CC: 100%, 100%.
LN: So really, the more that are reviewed as responsive, similar concepts and whatnot so that important links aren’t missed.
CC: 100% and because we do automatic batching, is every new batch of documents a person gets because we’ve applied this artificial intelligence and continual active learning model, it is a more relevant subset of data and people are able to go through it more faster. And sometimes, they will get to a point where they can say, “I’ve hit all my relevant information. “The rest is not relevant. “I’m going to sample it and statistically determine “I don’t have to review those last 100,000 documents “that maybe aren’t relevant,” and it’s pretty cool.
LN: In our next segment, we’re going to be talking What the trends are in the industry impacting law and eDiscovery. And then finally, we’ll talk about some of the pitfalls of what companies, organizations, and law firms face if they don’t embrace artificial intelligence to help make their review process more efficient. Well, thanks for being on the show.
CC: My pleasure.
More Related Articles About Artificial Intelligence (AI) )
View DISO’s website to learn more about AI trends in Legal Industry
Enigma Forensics CEO & President Lee Neubecker attends Legal Tech 2018 in New York. Lee sits down with Attorney David Rownd who is a partner at Thompson Coburn to discuss trade secret misappropriation and the role of Computer Forensics. They share their experiences in litigation concerning trade secrets and the misapporiation of information.
The transcript of the video follows
Lee Neubecker: So I’m at LegalTech New York and I’m here with David Rownd. He’s a partner at Thompson Coburn and David and I had a past working on cases involving trade secret theft and misappropriation and I just asked him to come here today and share a little bit about his experience using computer forensics and what role that’s played in cases and helping him to get good results for his clients.
David Rownd: Well computer forensics can be an amazing tool, particularly in a trade secret misappropriation case where a departing employee takes valuable company information. Often almost all of the information that is relevant to a company’s business is stored on the computer and the most common situation that you see is where the employee mistakenly believes that no one will catch him if he just emails stuff to a personal account and that is, at this point a well-worn trick, but it still happens. And most employees, what they are doing, is a see that they are going to pursue another option and they want to use information that belongs to the company so they do what they can to obtain that information. And they may realize that it’s traceable, but they may not. But what they probably don’t realize is the extent to which it really is traceable. And that every little move can be captured with a forensics expert such as me.
Lee Neubecker: Thank you. So are there any recommendations you’d have to clients that have an employee that leave that might have sensitive client data and trade secrets? What would you advise those clients to do?
David Rownd: You mean before they leave or after they leave?
Lee Neubecker: They find out their Head of Sales and Marketing leaves and goes to a competitor, how would you advise that client if they called you up and said, Dave, what should we do? We’re concerned that this person took stuff.
David Rownd: Well, first of all, any computerized data, if there was a desktop computer that that employee worked at, you should immediately evaluate the desktop computer to see if in fact any data has been moved or transferred in any way. And there are a variety of different ways that it can be done. And you know better than I do all of those different ways to identify the potential use of data. There’s also the issue about what information may be on your iPhone or a handheld device. I mean those are more and more becoming part of the way business gets conducted, especially in terms of sales, these salespeople are on the road, they’re communicating with customers by text, by email, and being able to trace the activity that went on on personal handheld devices is obviously an important thing to do as well. And to try to get a grip on, okay, what exactly did this person do prior to leaving?
Lee Neubecker: Now, have you ever had a company call you up where they hired this person who left and took stuff?
David Rownd: Oh that happens all the time. I mean the typical scenario is, in a lawsuit such as this, is that the departing employee and the new employer are both named as defendants, and the new employer can be potentially aiding and abetting the misappropriation of information, they can be tortuously interfering with agreements that the departing employee had with his prior employer. And you know one of the things we didn’t talk about is what sort of agreements are these employees operating under? Good prevention measures obviously to have an employment agreement with people who are going to have sensitive, proprietary information where they acknowledge that the information is confidential and that it’s proprietary and that it’s valuable.
Lee Neubecker: And just to add Dave, one of the most important things before, if an employee is leaving, you want to make a forensic image as soon as possible, done in an appropriate matter so that the data doesn’t get altered ’cause that can introduce chain of custody attacks
David Rownd: Correct
Lee Neubecker: and other allegations.
David Rownd: Correct. And the quicker that’s done and the more process oriented the way that it’s done, the better because you’re going to want to ultimately demonstrate to a court that this is reliable and that’s the key. And so if you can show that it was done almost contemporaneously and if you can a show a step by step process by which this mirror image was created so that a court can look at that data and say yes, this is in fact what was in existent at that time.
Lee Neubecker: Can you tell us what other type of case matters you work on to help your clients? Just a little bit more to our viewers about your practice?
David Rownd: Well my practice is, I am a business litigator is the generic term, but that can mean a lot of different things. I’ve done a lot of trade secret misappropriation in the past. These cases with a departing employee goes to a new employer, I’ve been on all sides of those cases in the past. A lot of my work is business to business litigation where it’s centered around some sort of business arrangement usually documented by a contract, but there can be other issues which are extraneous and in your typical straight up litigation matter today, the importance of electronically stored information is significant because that’s the way we do business now.
Noted Computer Forensics Expert and Cyber Security Detective Lee Neubecker announces the formation of Great Lakes Forensics (Now Enigma Forensics). Neubecker was again named one of the leading Cyber Forensics experts in the World by Who’s Who Legal in their 2018 release.
Neubecker previously worked at HaystackID as their Chief Information Security Officer. Following HaystackID’s recent recapitalization transaction, Neubecker was promoted to the role of Chief Information Officer for the merged entities bringing together Envision Discovery, HaystackID and Inspired Review.
“I missed being the captain of my own ship and saw the excellent opportunity I had to help my clients and colleagues with their challenges relating to insider threats, online counterfeiting, online defamation, cyber security and computer forensics. Performing online investigations to unmask the identities of rogue actors is one of the most satisfying types of projects me and my team has performed. I have decades of experience in cyber security and digital investigations and am happy to assist clients past, present or future with the unique challenges that face them. Launching Great Lakes Forensics gives me the chance to help clients with many challenges brought about by the digital economy. I will continue to work with HaystackID in the future as a trusted business partner in delivering solutions to my clients and colleagues.”