Cypress Semiconductor Corp. v. Superior Court, 163 Cal. App. 4th 575 (2008)

The trade secret owner in this case, Silvaco Data Systems, develops and licenses electronic design automation software. In late 1998, a former Silvaco employee, working for Circuit Systems, Inc. (“CSI”), incorporated Silvaco’s “SmartSpice” trade secrets into CSI’s product, “DynaSpice.” Silvaco sued the employee as well as CSI and in 2003 entered into a settlement agreement and stipulated judgment. CypressSemiconductor (“Cypress”), one of CSI’s customers that had purchased DynaSpice, learned of the judgment against CSI in August of 2003. In September 2003, Silvaco contacted Cypress directly and demanded that it cease its use of Silvaco’s trade secrets (as incorporated in the DynaSpice software). When Cypress continued to use the product after receiving notice from Silvaco, the latter company sued the former for trade secret misappropriation under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”). Cypress defended in part based on CUTSA’s three-year statute of limitations, which it contended commenced running in 2000 when Silvaco discovered CSI’s misappropriation. Silvaco, however, argued that because Cypress did not know of CSI’s misappropriation until August of 2003, the statute of limitations did not commence running until that date because one of the elements of a trade secret misappropriation claim is the defendant’s knowledge of the wrongfulness of its conduct. The Court of Appeal held that a plaintiff may have more than one claim for misappropriation, each with its own statute of limitations, when more than one defendant is involved. However, the Court further held that the statute commences running when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know the third party has knowingly acquired, used or disclosed its trade secrets. In this case, the Court held that Cypress was entitled to a jury trial to determine when Silvaco first had reason to know that a CSI customer such as Cypress had obtained or used DynaSpice knowing, or with reason to know, that the software contained Silvaco’s trade secrets.

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.