United States v. Agrawal

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trade Secrets, Electronic Espionage Act Nexus Provision
  • Date Filed: 08-01-2013
  • Case #: 11-1074-cr
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 15820
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 3942204
  • Full Text Opinion

The nexus provisions of the EEA must read to indicate that, for purposes of determining theft, a trade secret may relate to a product placed in interstate commerce without being included in that product.

Opinion (Raggi): Defendant Samarth Agrawal ("Agrawal") was employed by SocGen’s New York offices between 2007 and 2009. During his employment as a quantitative analyst, Agrawal helped SocGen monitor changes in prices of securities. To do this, he used two different computer trading systems, ADP and DQS, each made up of highly complicated and highly technical computer code. Though Agrawal had no access to the underlying computer code embedded in the computer systems, he developed indicators for use by others in refining the DQS system. Periodically, Agrawal was required to commit to SocGen that he had never nor planned to in the future disclose any information related to SocGen or the computer trading systems. During 2009, Agrawal had a series of meetings with representatives from a competing securities firm named Tower Research Capital (Tower). After Agrawal’s resignation from SocGen, he was charged with violations of the Electronic Espionage Act for disclosing SocGen’s trade secret information with the intent to financially injure SocGen as the original owner. One of the issues in this case was language in the EEA requiring the trade secret to be related to a product placed in interstate or foreign commerce. Previous case law construed that phrase as a limitation on the scope of the EEA, restraining Congress’ power to invoke the Commerce Clause in its entirety when prosecuting for theft of trade secrets. The court found that the computer code would satisfy the EEA requirements if the government could prove its purpose was to effectuate securities trade in interstate commerce. The EEA also requires a nexus between the converted trade secret and the product in interstate commerce. The court found that the nexus provision should be read to indicate that a trade secret may relate to a product in interstate commerce without necessarily being included in that product. The court AFFIRMED Agrawal’s conviction entered by the district court after finding that the nexus requirement in the EEA was satisfied.

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