U.S. appeals court revives workplace cybertheft lawsuit

Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:27pm EST
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* MacDermid said Toronto-area woman stole trade secrets

* Materials taken from Connecticut server - lawsuit

* 2nd Circuit lets chemical company pursue damages claims

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, Dec 26 (Reuters) - In a decision that could make it easier for businesses to police cybertheft in the workplace, a U.S. appeals court revived a chemical company's lawsuit accusing a former Toronto-area employee of using her home computer to steal trade secrets from its Connecticut server.

Reversing a lower court ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said U.S.-based MacDermid Inc may pursue civil damages claims against a former account manager under Connecticut state law, even though she conducted her alleged improper activity from her home in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Wednesday's decision may make it easier for U.S. companies to crack down on alleged computer theft that occurs in remote locations, including outside the country. In recent years, U.S. courts increasingly have dealt with cases involving downloads of corporate information by employees, both in criminal cases brought by prosecutors and civil cases filed by companies.

Jackie Deiter, the MacDermid account manager, had worked for the Waterbury, Connecticut-based company's MacDermid Chemicals unit in Mississauga, Ontario, from May 2008 until her termination in April 2011 for reasons unrelated to the lawsuit.

The company accused her of violating Connecticut laws on unauthorized computer access and misappropriating trade secrets by emailing customer data, laboratory reports, and pricing lists drawn from its Waterbury server. It said this occurred soon after Deiter had learned she was about to be fired.   Continued...