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Littler Mendelson Sued for Allegedly Misusing CWC Materials (1)

Nov. 16, 2020, 3:13 PMUpdated: Nov. 16, 2020, 5:49 PM

The Center for Workplace Compliance accused labor and employment law firm Littler Mendelson PC in Virginia federal court of unlawfully downloading over 2,100 pages of its copyrighted materials and misusing them in its work.

Attorney Lance E. Gibbons, principal Chris Gokturk, and other unnamed Littler employees allegedly used the materials in presentations, publications, and client services, according to the Nov. 13 complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The CWC is a nonprofit dedicated to “helping its member employers understand and manage their workplace compliance requirements and risks,” and law firms aren’t eligible for membership. It told the court that Gibbons and Gokturk left the CWC to work at Littler and facilitated the misuse of protected CWC materials at the firm.

Littler servers were allegedly used to obtain CWC materials approximately 442 times, including more than 2,100 pages of “memoranda, templates, checklists, guides, and other resources that CWC produced for the exclusive use and benefit of its member employers.” The complaint says Littler misused CWC’s IP “each and every month” from November 2018 to March 2020.

According to the complaint, Gibbons also asked a CWC attorney to send him some of the materials, and obtained login credentials from an employee of a member company when the attorney refused. The CWC accused Littler and Gibbons of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in addition to committing copyright infringement.

Gokturk was specifically accused of copying from a CWC presentation for a Littler presentation on data analytics.

Causes of Action: Copyright infringement, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, fraud, alteration or removal of copyright management information.

Relief: Injunctive relief, damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Response: A firm spokesperson said in a statement that Littler values and respects intellectual property rights and expects its attorneys to do the same.

“The firm had no knowledge at the time of the alleged actions. As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we initiated an investigation and took immediate action based on our findings,” the spokesperson said. “As this is an ongoing litigation matter, we cannot provide any further comment.”

Attorneys: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP represents the CWC.

The case is Ctr. for Workplace Compliance v. Littler Mendelson P.C., E.D. Va., No. 1:20-cv-01387, complaint filed 11/13/20.

(Updated with Littler response in ninth and 10th paragraphs.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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