United States v. Nosal
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
844 F. 3d 1024 (2016)
The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted David Nosal (defendant) for trade-secret theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832. The trial evidence established that Nosal was employed by Korn/Ferry International, a corporate executive-search firm. Korn/Ferry's key asset was its proprietary "Searcher" database, containing data on millions of potential corporate executives. The data was uploaded from public sources such as LinkedIn. Searcher's value to Korn/Ferry derived from its capability to aggregate previous user queries and the outcomes of previous executive searches to refine its capability to generate targeted candidate search lists. Korn/Ferry never gave anyone access to Searcher without making them sign strict confidentiality agreements, which emphasized Searcher's valuable and legally protected status. The Searcher home screen notified users that it was "intended to be used by Korn/Ferry employees for work on Korn/Ferry business only," and search lists generated by Searcher were marked "Korn/Ferry Proprietary & Confidential." Nosal and several associates secretly downloaded Searcher data to help them establish a rival executive-search company. Even after Nosal and his associates quit Korn/Ferry and set up their own business, they persuaded an ally still on the Korn/Ferry payroll to continue funneling Searcher data to them. The jury convicted Nosal. On appeal to the Ninth Circuit, Nosal argued that Searcher data could not be considered a trade secret because it came from public sources, that Korn/Ferry shared Searcher data with others, and that Nosal neither knew nor intended that his unauthorized use of Searcher data would hurt Korn/Ferry.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McKeown, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 725,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 725,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 45,600 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.