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1.(i) law of contract breaching
(ii) theft of trade secret cases involving computers and electronically stored information
Electronic copying often occurs immediately before or after an employee announces a job change, but before the company-owned laptop is returned. Employees may wish only to copy and remove personal information contained on the company laptop. However, proprietary business information may be included in the transfer. It could be an innocent mistake, a need for a business “crutch” that will assist them in their new position, or a matter of simple negligence—or it may be an intentional transfer of proprietary and trade secret information to a new employer.
Although many employers routinely check company email servers to determine whether an employee has transferred or emailed proprietary information prior to termination, certain forms of transfer are more difficult to track. Memory sticks or external storage devices are becoming more popular, and copying to such devices is harder to identify, especially if an employee is determined to have deleted information or used new software to clean the computer’s hard drive. Many employers, even those with IT departments, lack the technology to determine if and when information from a company laptop has been downloaded and copied. In the absence of incriminating evidence, the employer often does not want to incur the expense of a forensic analysis to determine whether any proprietary or trade secret information has been improperly transferred, deleted, or copied from the company laptop.
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