Navigating the Competition For Employees and Trade Secrets
Disputes over employee violations of non-compete agreements and disclosure of trade secrets have long been part of the litigation landscape. Over the last several years, however, we have seen such cases increase in number and complexity, fueled by increasingly competitive markets where employee mobility has become routine.
Beginning in early 2011, Pullman & Comley represented a national technology service company whose former head of sales and several direct reports left the company, joined a rival company, and started using our client’s customer list to solicit accounts. The litigation spanned five states, including Texas, Missouri, Massachusetts, Connecticut and North Carolina, and ultimately resulted in an agreement that keeps the former employees and their new employer from soliciting our client’s customers for two years and compensated our client for its damages.
In another matter, our attorneys defended a regional accounting firm and two of its partners against breach of non-compete and trade secret claims brought by the partners’ former employer, a national accounting firm. The matter generated litigation in Kansas City and Minneapolis where, assisted by our Law Firm Alliance partner Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A., we successfully resisted any significant injunctive relief against our clients, and achieved a favorable settlement.
Finally, at the request of a Fortune 500 health insurer, we successfully defended an executive who joined the company from another major insurer against non-competition and trade secret claims in federal court in Connecticut. We demonstrated that the information at issue in the case, which involved insurance companies operating in the exchange environment specified by federal health care reform legislation, did not constitute a trade secret, ultimately resolving the case in our client’s favor.