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					Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, 1 Cal Rptr. 3d 32 (Cal. 2003). The California Supreme Court ruled that
former Intel employee Ken Hamidi did not "trespass" on Intel's computer system when he sent
email messages to Intel employees at work. The case stems from e-mail messages sent by
Hamidi, a former Intel employee, to thousands of Intel employees worldwide. The messages did
not damage or slow down Intel's computer systems and Hamidi removed anyone from the email
list that did not wish to receive the emails. Intel brought suit against Hamidi alleging trespass to
chattels. The California Supreme Court ruled that the legal claim of trespass requires damage to
Intel's computers and was applicable in this case because Hamidid's emails had not damaged
Intel's computers in any way.
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Copyright, Property, Spam, Employment, Free Speech

United States v. Angevine, Case No. 01-6097 (10th Cir. 2002). The Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals affirmed a lower court's refusal to suppress images of child pornography seized from the
defendant's Oklahoma State University computer. Professor Angevine used his university owned
computer to download pornographic images of children. The police seized the computer.
Angevine argued that the images were illegally seized because he had a 4th Amendment based
reasonable expectation of privacy in the data stored on his computer. The court disagreed, citing
the University policy stating that the computer was owned by the University and that the
University retained the right to monitor the data stored on the computer and to take action should
that data be in violation of University policies. Therefore, the court held that the defendant did
not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data stored on the computer.
10th Circuit Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy, Search and Seizure

Varian v. Delfino and Day, (Santa Clara Cty, Dec. 2001). In one of the first Silicon Valley
Internet libel cases to reach trial, a jury awarded $425,000 to Varian, the former employer of two
disgruntled workers. The jury found that the two former employees had libeled Varian
executives by posting more than 14,000 defamatory messages on over 100 different websites.
The jury found the defendants liable for defamation as well as misappropriation of the executives
names. Update April 19, 2002: Pending appeal, the California 6th District Court of Appeal
granted a temporary stay of contempt proceedings and the injunction granted by the trial court.
The appellate court also stayed the damages award.
Updated Article at
Article at

ICD Keywords: Defamation, Misappropriation, Employment

Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, 114 Cal. Rptr. 2d 244 (Cal. Ct. App. 2001). A California appellate
court affirmed a lower court ruling that mass emailing Intel's employees constituted trespass to
chattels. After being fired by Intel, Hamidi repeatedly flooded Intel's system with mass emails.
The court found that the transmission of an email through a computer network is sufficiently
physical to constitute trespass to chattels. In addition, the time and effort wasted by Intel
employees constituted a sufficient harm to support the cause of action. Therefore, the court
upheld the injunction against Hamidi. Update April 3, 2002: Review granted by California
Supreme Court. See Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, Cal., No. S103781, review granted 3/27/02).
Legal Documents at

ICD Keywords: Spam, Employment, Free Speech

Leventhal v. Knapek, 266 F.3d 64 (2d Cir. 2001). The Second Circuit affirmed a lower court
decision that found an employee's right to privacy had not been violated when his work computer
was searched for unauthorized programs. Department of Transportation investigators, after
receiving an anonymous tip that a certain employee was neglecting his duties, printed out a list
of file names from plaintiff Leventhal's computer. This lead to additional searches that confirmed
that Leventhal had loaded unauthorized tax programs onto his work computer. Leventhal was
disciplined by the DOT for misconduct. Leventhal sued the DOT challenging the legality of the
searches. The court held that although Leventhal did have a reasonable expectation of privacy,
the investigation by the DOT did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The court determined that
there were reasonable grounds for the search based on the tip. In addition, the search for
unauthorized programs on Leventhal's computer was "reasonably related" to the allegations of
workplace misconduct. As such, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary
judgment for the defendants
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy, Search and Seizure v. Christopher Zyda, (W.D. Wash. 2001). A federal district court judge ruled
that federal courts have no jurisdiction in Amazon's suit against its former CFO Christopher
Zyda. Amazon had filed suit against its former CFO maintaining that he had violated the terms
of his employment agreement when he resigned to become a vice-president in eBay's finance and
investor relations department.
Article at
Article at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Jurisdiction

Nikon France v. Onos, Cass. soc., Arret No. 41-6410/2/01 (France 2001). The Supreme Court
of France struck down a lower court ruling and decided that employers do not have the right to
read their employees' emails or other electronic records. The suit involved Frederic Onos, who
was fired by Nikon France after the company discovered through reading his emails that he had
been using company equipment to perform unauthorized freelance activities. The court did not
eliminate the right of an employer to prohibit personal use of computers or email, but rather
imposed limits on the employer's ability to gather evidence of such activities by monitoring the
employee's email messages.

ICD Keywords: International, Employment, Privacy v. WOWemployers Network, Docket #: 49-C01-0103-CP-000550 (Marion
County Super. Ct., 2001). has filed suit in Marion County, Indiana seeking to
enforce employment contracts, and protect certain trade secrets. alleges
WOWemployers, started by's former president, has committed civil conspiracy,
misappropriated trade secrets, and violated stock option and other agreements by hiring former employees.
Article at

ICD Keywords: Trade Secrets, Employment, Contract

British Columbia Automobile Assoc. v. Office and Professional Employees' Union, 2001
BCSC 156 (Canada, 2001). The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) sued the
union for various claims relating to the union's website. Striking union members had established
a website that incorporated various design elements as well as the plaintiffs registered trademark.
The BCAA alleged that the union had infringed on its copyright, committed passing off, and
caused depreciation of the plaintiff's goodwill in its trademark. The court held that despite the
incorporation of some of the plaintiff's design elements into the defendant's website, the union
had not committed passing off because there was no confusion or possibility of confusion in the
minds of Internet users that the site was associated with the BCAA. Second, the court found that
any depreciation in goodwill was not brought about by the defedant's use of plaintiff's trademark,
but by the success of the union's arguments in support of its striking members. Finally, the court
held that the union's websites infringed on the plaintiff's copyright by substantially copying the
BCAA's web design and as such, did not qualify as a "fair use" of the design for purposes of
criticism or review.

ICD Keywords: Copyright, Employment, Trademark, International

Gina Tiberino v. Spokane County, et al, Docket No.: 18830-2-III (Wash Ct. App. 2000).
Spokane County responded to a request for release of public documents relating to a wrongful
discharge claim filed by Gina Tiberino. Mrs. Tiberino was discharged for unsatisfactory work
performance stemming from her abuse of the county computers to communicate with friends and
family over email. Pursuant to the request for public documents concerning the litigation, the
County released several hundred emails from Mrs. Tiberino. The state appellate court held that
the emails were “public records” covered by the public records act, but concluded that because
they fell into an exemption for “personal information,” the emails were improperly released.
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy

Net2Phone v., D.N.J., filed Oct., 2000. Internet phone company Net2Phone filed
suit against and two former employees based on a one-year non-compete agreement
Net2Phone had with the two employees hired by Net2Phone seeks the salary,
bonuses and stock options awarded to the employees in addition to unspecified damages. The
employees, who managed business development in Net2Phone's California region have filed suit
in California against Net2Phone in an attempt to be released from their contracts. Both have been
enjoined by the New Jersey court from working for Dialpad until the suit is resolved.

ICD Keywords: Employment
In re iPRIMUS, Inc., Ontario Superior Court (decided Sept. 6, 2000). Landmark Canadian
case in which the Ontario Superior Court in Edmonton, Alberta ordered ISP iPRIMUS to
identify an anonymous e-mailer in a defamation action. The e-mailer sent a message and
confidential company files to 70 employees of a toy company criticizing the company president.
Justice John Wilkins held that plaintiffs must demonstrate a legitimate reason for such orders to
be granted.
Article at

ICD Keywords: Defamation, Employment, Privacy, International

Canizales v. Microsoft, Australia,(2000) NSWIRComm 118 (1 September 2000). Microsoft
was ordered to pay approximately $9 million to a former employee who did not receive proper
severance pay and was denied his 1,000,000 share options at between $5 and $7 each (now worth
approximately $70 each). The plaintiff received his termination notice by e-mail in 1998 while
the stock options were scheduled to vest in July, 1999. In Austrialia's largest employee judgment
to date, the judge noted that Microsoft's actions inferred an intent to keep the plaintiff from
vesting. Microsoft argued that the plaintiff's position became redundant.
Decision at

ICD Keywords: Employment, International

Sports Authority Inc. v. Yahoo! Inc., Miami-Dade Circuit Court, filed Aug., 2000. Part of an
action against an anonymous Yahoo! user who posted claims revealing allegedly inside
information against the plaintiff. Sports Authority is demanding that Yahoo! provide documents
that may lead to the poster's identity, whom Sports Authority suspects to be one of its

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy, Securities

Blakey v. Continental Airlines, 751 A.2d 538 (N.J. 2000). The New Jersey Supreme Court
reversed and remanded a case filed by a Continental pilot against her employer and individual
pilots. The individual pilots allegedly posted derogatory remarks on a company on-line bulletin
board after the plaintiff filed a sexual discrimination suit against Continental. In reversing the
Appellate Court's dismissal of the claim, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an employer
who has notice that its employees are harassing another employee has a duty to remedy that
harassment. The court also held that this notice combined with knowledge that the harassing
statements would be published in a particular state subjects the defendants to that state's
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Jurisdiction, Free Speech, Defamation, Employment

John Doe a/k/a Aquacool_2000 v. Yahoo!, No. 2:00cv04993 (C.D. Cal., filed May 11, 2000).
Plaintiff charged Yahoo! with violating his constitutional and contractual rights to privacy.
According to the complaint, plaintiff posted comments that criticized his employer on a Yahoo!
message board using a pseudonym, with the expectation that under Yahoo!’s privacy policy,
Yahoo! would not disclose his identity to any third party. The employer sued the then-
unidentified plaintiff. The employer served a subpoena on Yahoo!, which without informing
plaintiff, divulged his identity. Plaintiff was later fired by the employer.
Complaint at

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Employment

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. v. Purdy, No. 00-1918NMI (8th Cir. 2000). The 8th
Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part a district court order barring the defendant from posting
employee salaries on his web site. The court upheld the decision prohibiting publication of
employee Social Security numbers. The defendant obtained the information after a consultant
mistakenly addressed an e-mail to the defendant's web site rather than the Burlington
Northern Santa Fe railroad corporation's address. Update May 24, 2000: A federal
judge ordered the defendant to transfer the domain name to Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Corp. due to confusion caused by its similarity to the railroad company's address. The
defendant filed an immediate appeal with the 8th Circuit. No. 98-833DWF/RLE (D. Minn., May
24, 200).
Unpublished 8th Circuit Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Domain Names, Trademark, Free Speech

United States v. Simons, 206 F.3d 392 (4th Cir. 2000). A government employee was charged
with violating federal laws against possession of child pornography. The employing agency
identified incriminating documents on his computer. The court held that the employee did not
have a reasonable expectation of privacy as to the fruits of his Internet use, where the agency had
notified employees of limitations and a policy of periodic audits to ensure compliance.
4th Circuit Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Evidence, Employment

Earthweb, Inc. v. Schlack, 71 F. Supp. 2d 299 (S.D. N.Y. 1999). Court declined to enforce
one-year non-compete agreement for executive at Internet company. Court found that duration of
agreement was unreasonably long in fast-changing industry, especially in light of lack of
geographical boundaries and defendant's position requiring him to follow daily changes in
Internet content.
Article at (New York Times story free registration required).

ICD Keywords: Employment

Xircom, Inc. v. Doe, (Cal. Sup. Ct., June 14, 1999). Judge allowed plaintiff to issue subpoenas
to third party, Yahoo, seeking the identity of the person posting messages critical of Xircom on
Yahoo bulletin board. According to Xircom, the messages (which alleged to be posted by a
company employee) were defamatory. The defendant's attorneys stated they would appeal the
Article at (registration required to access New York Times site).
ICD Keywords: Defamation, Free Speech, Media, Employment

Blakey v. Continental Airlines, 322 N.J. Super. 187 (App. Div. 1999). Airline pilot sued
airline for sex discrimination, and sued other pilots for alleged defamatory statements posted on
company internal electronic bulletin board, viewable only by flight crews. Defendant pilots were
not based in New Jersey or residents of the state, and there was no evidence that postings were
targeted at New Jersey. Under these circumstances, New Jersey court declined to exercise
personal jurisdiction over individual pilots. Update June 1, 2000: Reversed and remanded by
the NJ Supreme Court. See separate entry.

ICD Keywords: Jurisdiction, Defamation, Employment, Free Speech

McLaren v. Microsoft Corp., 1999 Tex. App. LEXIS 4103 (Tex. Ct. App. 1999). Although
employee used private password to encrypt email messages stored on office computer, that did
not create reasonable expectation of privacy that would prevent company from decrypting and
viewing files. Email account and workstation to use it were provided for business, not personal,
use, and company had legitimate access to data stored there.

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy

Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, No. 98AS05067 (Cal. Super. Ct., April 27, 1999). Court granted Intel
an injunction barring former employee from sending mass email messages to the company's
employees criticizing the company and making what it claims are false charges about its
treatment of employees. Intel's email system was not a public forum, even though it was
connected to the Internet, and Intel could bar Hamidi from using it.
Article at

ICD Keywords: Media, Spam, Free Speech, Employment

Urofsky v. Gilmore, 216 F.3d 401 (4th Cir. 2000).. A Virginia law designed to prohibit state
employees from accessing sexually explicit material without prior permission by means of the
state's computers was held not to violate the First Amendment. The court reasoned that the act
did not regulate the speech of the citizenry in general, but rather permissibly regulated the speech
of state employees in their capacity as employees. Concurrent development: Decision handed
down just days after Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that would repeal the
challenged law. Update January 8, 2001: Cert denied. 2001 U.S. LEXIS 134 (U.S. Jan. 8,
Article at

ICD Keywords: Media, Employment, Free Speech

Sprint Corp. v. DeAngelo, 12 F.Supp.2d 1188 (D. Kas. 1998). Internet services were not
sufficiently "related" to "long distance services" to warrant preliminary injunction to enforce
non-compete agreement against former employee. Court held that the record as to the contract
terms was insufficient to resolve the contract's ambiguity, therefore failing to establish a
substantial likelihood of success on the merits.

ICD Keywords: Telecommunications, Employment

State of Ohio ex rel. Wilson-Simmons v. Lake County Sheriff's Dep't, 82 Ohio St. 3d 37
(Ohio 1998). 82 Ohio St. 3d 37 (Ohio 5/20/98). The Ohio Supreme Court held that racist email
messages exchanged among public employees were not a public record required to be disclosed
under the Ohio Public Records Act, because by nature they could not have served "to document
the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the
public office" of the Sheriff.

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Employment

Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998). In a defamation case, District of
Columbia's long arm statute and Due Process requirements were satisfied and personal
jurisdiction was proper over an Internet-gossip purveyor. The court held that personal
jurisdiction requirements were met with (1) the interactivity of Web site between the defendant
and D.C. residents, (2) regular distribution of defendant's gossip publication via AOL, email, and
the World Wide Web to D.C. residents, (3) defendant's solicitations and receipt of contribution
from D.C. residents, (4) availability of the Web site to D.C. residents, (5) defendant's physical
presence in D.C. during an interview with C-SPAN, and (6) defendant's contacts with D.C.
residents who provide gossip for the column. America Online (AOL) is shielded from liability as
a content provider for allegedly defamatory statements about plaintiff written by columnist under
contract to AOL and published on AOL's service. Plaintiff maintained that, because alleged
defamer was an employee of AOL, AOL acted as a content provider exercising editorial control,
not as a passive distributor that merely facilitated the means of publication. The court, however,
held to the analysis in Zeran v. America Online that the safe harbor provisions of the
Communications Decency Act absolutely preclude state common law defamation actions against
Internet service providers.
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Jurisdiction, Defamation, Employment

McVeigh v. Cohen, 983 F. Supp. 215 (D.D.C. 1998). Injunction issues barring Navy from
discharging serviceman who allegedly violated the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in an
anonymous and private online profile maintained by his service provider, AOL. The court said
that the Navy, by obtaining the information from AOL, likely violated federal laws protecting the
privacy of stored electronic information. Later Development: Matter settled with Navy covering
McVeigh's legal expenses and allowing him to retire early with full benefits, and with AOL
apologizing and compensating McVeigh for violations of his privacy.
Article at
Opinion at
Complaint at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy
Briggs v. State of Maryland, 348 Md. 470 (1998). Maryland statute that criminalizes
unauthorized access to computers was intended to prohibit use of computers by those not
authorized to do so in the first place, and may not be used to criminalize the activities of
employees who use employers' computer systems beyond the scope of their authority to do so.
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Criminal Actions, Employment

Owens v. Morgan Stanley & Co., 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20493 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). Black
employees may proceed with action against employer for discrimination and retaliation arising
from alleged isolation and denial of advancement opportunities after they complained about the
internal dissemination of an October 1995 email message containing racist jokes.

ICD Keywords: Employment

Roe v. Interactive Live, Inc., (Superior Ct., San Francisco; filed 11/12/97). Group of models
hired to perform for an online videoconferencing service sued their employer, alleging
misrepresentation of working conditions (such as the circumstances under which their
performances would be viewed and recorded), misuse of their images, failure to protect the
confidentiality of their identities, failure to provide health benefits, and other violations of
California labor laws.

ICD Keywords: Employment

Quad/Graphics, Inc. v. Southern Adirondack Library Syst., 664 N.Y.S.2d 225 (Sup. Ct.
1997). Respondent library system operates a service called "Library Without Walls" (LWW),
which allows library card holders to access the Internet by logging on to the LWW number.
Certain of petitioner company's employees were able to bypass the company's long-distance
restrictions, ringing up over $23,000 in long distance charges, by dialing into the company's
mainframe computer and having it place calls to the LWW line. The court denied petitioner's
motion to compel disclosure of the names of the employees it suspected were responsible, citing
New York's Civil Practice Law and Rules § 4509, which protects the confidentiality of library
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Employment, Telecommunications

Howard v. Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler, 977 F. Supp. 654 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). Internet
advertising alone could not support jurisdiction over nonresident defendant in action for
employment discrimination. "[M]ere advertising or marketing activities do not constitute an
adequate basis for general jurisdiction absent a systematic and continuous course of doing
business in the forum state." Update December 31, 1999: Affirmed by the 2d Circuit Court of
Appeals. See 173 F.3d 844 (2d Cir. 1999).
2d Circuit Summary Order at

ICD Keywords: Jurisdiction, Employment, Advertising
Timekeeping Systems Inc. v. Leinweber, 323 NLRB No. 30 (NLRB 2/27/97). Employer
could not terminate employee for using internal email to dispute the fairness of a new company
vacation policy and challenge the truthfulness of the company CEO's assertions about the policy.
Such remarks, though arrogantly expressed, were within the scope of NLRA-protected
"concerted activity," since they sought to facilitate the employees' discussion of and response to
the new policy, the NLRB held.

ICD Keywords: Employment

People v. Lee, No. C38925 (Cal.Super.Ct., 1/30/97). First conviction stemming from use of
falsified email. Defendant found guilty of falsifying email message for use as evidence in
obtaining settlement in civil sexual harassment action against former boss.

ICD Keywords: Criminal Actions, Evidence, Employment

Haybeck v. Prodigy Services Co., 944 F. Supp. 326 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Prodigy was not liable
on a respondeat superior theory for damages suffered by plaintiff who contracted HIV virus from
Prodigy employee whom plaintiff met online. Plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to show that
employee's actions were within scope of employment or that Prodigy had knowledge and
involvement sufficient to give rise to a duty.

ICD Keywords: Employment

Bohach v. City of Reno, 932 F. Supp. 1232 (D. Nev. 1996). Police officers did not have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of their internal email, and privacy and wiretap
statutes did not immunize them from employer action against them based on monitoring of

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Employment

New England Circuit Sales, Inc. v. Randall, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9748 (D. Mass. 1996).
Plaintiff's non-competition agreement with former employee was enforced to bar him from
working for a competitor for one year following his departure from plaintiff company. The court
held that the employee's web-marketing skills were protectable confidential information within
the terms of the non-competition agreement.
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Employment, Trade Secrets

Bourke v. Nissan Motor Corp., No. B068705 (Cal. Ct. App. filed July 26, 1993) (no published
decision). Employer had right to monitor employees' email and to terminate employees for
sending email of a personal, sexual nature. Wiretap and privacy laws did not protect employees
from employer monitoring.
Unpublished Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Employment
Gateway 2000 v. Blackmon, [New Jersey state court, 1996; no published opinion]. Disgruntled
former employee was entitled to refer to former employer by name on web site devoted to
"trashing" the company, but TRO issued restraining former employee from using company's
registered trademarks on the web site.

ICD Keywords: Trademark, Employment

Shoars v. Epson Am., Inc., 1994 Cal. LEXIS 3670 (Cal. 1994). Employee's wrongful
termination action after she was dismissed for insubordination for questioning company's
practice of monitoring employee email. [A related class action, Flanagan v. Epson America, Inc.,
brought by about 700 employees whose email was read, was dismissed when the court rejected
the class certification.]

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy

Smyth v. Pillsbury Co., 914 F. Supp. 97 (E.D.Pa. 1996). A company employee does not have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in his use of internal email to communicate with a supervisor,
notwithstanding assurances by the company that email communications would be kept
"confidential." It was not wrongful for the company to intercept the employee's email, nor to
terminate the employee for transmitting "inappropriate and unprofessional" communications over
the company email system.
Opinion at

ICD Keywords: Privacy, Employment

Thomasson v. Bank of Am., 1995 Cal. LEXIS 1843 (1995). Employee, terminated after
employer learned from his email that he worked as a gay stripper in his off-hours, had no
reasonable expectation of privacy in that fact, since a publicity photo of him was posted outside
the theatre where he performed. Employer did not violate his right to privacy by using
information contained in the email as grounds for termination.

ICD Keywords: Employment, Privacy

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