David W. Opderbeck, director of the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology at Seton Hall University, said civil suits involving allegations of trade-secret theft are fairly common — more so lately because digital documents have become so easy to copy.
“I used to litigate these cases 10 years ago, and they usually involved 20 or 100 boxes of documents,” he said. “Now, you can fit much more than that onto a thumb drive.”
The theft of trade secrets to be sent overseas is also more common than in the past, when such thefts were mainly executed to set up a rival company or to extort money from the secret’s owner, he said.
Such cases rarely involve criminal charges, but the bottom line is the same, whether it’s a criminal case or civil, Opderbeck said: Attorneys have to prove that the information or documents stolen had economic value and that they were truly secret and confidential.
The criminal complaint against Maniar, which was filed the same day as his arrest, refers to the product that he worked on only in general terms. But it’s identified as Vystra in a civil suit filed by BD a week before Maniar’s arrest, which also reveals new details in the case.
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The company’s suit alleges that Maniar “misappropriated and threatens to disclose and use BD trade secrets to his and others’ competitive advantage,” in violation of New Jersey’s Trade Secrets Act.
The suit asks the court to order Maniar to give up the documents and to allow BD to “seize, freeze and examine” computers and other devices in his possession to ensure that he is not keeping any of the documents.
Maniar’s attorney, Ryan Blanch of New York, did not return calls seeking comment. When Maniar was arrested, Blanch said the case may just be an example of “corporate overreaction to an alleged violation of a company policy.”