Articles Tagged with Uniform Trade Secrets Act

  • A court may immecdiately grant the plaintiff a restraining order or preliminary injunction when there is a valid trade secret claim and the plaintiff may suffer irreparable harm without it.

  • Courts make the determination whether an injunction is necessary based on the evidence presented by the plaintiff at an initial application at the start of the case.

In a misappropriation of trade secrets lawsuit, one of the first actions taken by the court is to determine if an injunction will be available to protect the trade secret from use or disclosure pending a final resolution of the case.

Whether an injunction will be granted at the outset of the case pendente lite, or while the lawsuit is pending, is a critical must-win for both plaintiff and defendant. It will not only color the way the matter is handled, but in many cases reflects the ultimate outcome of the case.

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  • Statutes that protect the rights of the owners of trade secrets protect against ‘misappropriation’ of confidential information, which requires a defendant to take or use the trade secret without permission.

  • The inevitable disclosure doctrine can prevent an employee from working for another when the new job would inevitably require the use of the trade secrets of the former employ.  Intent to misappropriate the information is not an element.

  • A party seeking to prevent disclosure of a trade secret under the inevitable disclosure doctrine will probably not be able to pursue the remedies available under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act or the state Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

When a key executive with access to key data leaves an information-intensive position to start a competing business, does the fact that inevitably the former employee will make use of sensitive state a claim under federal law? Quite possibly not.

The federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA ) and the uniform state law on which it is modelled turns on the concept of misappropriation and without it, there may be no basis.  Inevitable disclosure is a common-law doctrine and in itself may not create a right to sue under the these trade secret statutes.Trade Secret Attorneys | New Jersey | New York

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The inevitable disclosure doctrine is legal principle in trade secret law that enables a former employer to prevent a former employee from accepting a new position with a rival if the new position’s responsibilities will unavoidably cause the person to divulge the trade secrets of the former employer. The doctrine may apply even if fthe former employer lacks concrete evidence that the employee has actually taken trade secrets or threatened to do so.

The Difference Between the DTSA and the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine

In a federal court action, Paro Inc., a Delaware corporation, unsuccessfully sought an emergency temporary restraining order against former employee Luke Kohan, a New York resident, and his newly founded company, FirmKey Solutions LLC, claiming Kohan was in breach of a restrictive covenant and had misappropriated trade secrets. Paro, an artificial intelligence-powered marketplace, provides various finance and accounting solutions to businesses through its AI-powered platform. Continue reading

  • To enforce a claim for misappropriation of a trade secret, the plaintiff must prove that the information was secret and valuable. Plaintiffs in New Jersey can rely on either the common law or the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act.

  • Secrets that have been publicly disclosed lose their their protection as trade secrets.  Thus, the failure to secure a non-disclosure agreement with vendors or potential vendors could make it impossible to protect sensitive information in the future.

  • Once a trade secret has been publicly disclosed, even restrictive covenants and non-disclosure agreements executed by employees may lose their effectiveness as a means of protecting sensitive information.

One of the first obstacles that a company will encounter when trying to enforce its rights to protect confidential or proprietary information is whether the information is a trade secret.  This is a threshold issue that is determined by the conduct of the party claiming the secret, sometimes as much by the sensitivity of the information.

If the information is in the public domain, or if the owner the information has not taken steps to protect the information from disclosure, under New Jersey law there is no trade secret to protect.  That was the result in this case from New Jersey’s Superior Court.

Court Dismisses Trade Secret Misappropriation Claim

In a lawsuit brought against a New Jersey beauty supplier, a trial judge of the Superior Court dismissed claims asserting that a competitor had misappropriated its trade secrets and that its former employees were in breach of the confidentiality and non-solicitation provisions of restrictive covenants that they had executed.

The case, Ebin New York, Inc. v. Beauty Plus Trading Co., Inc., involved the formula for an adhesive hair spray that the plaintiff claimed was a trade secret.  The plaintiff sued its manufacturer and Beauty Plus, along with individual defendants that the plaintiff alleged were bound by the agreements they had made as employees.

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  • An executive with national responsibilities may be subjected to a broad geographic restriction in an employment restrictive covenant.

  • Courts can and will enjoin a former executive from working for a competitor to prevent irreparable harm to the executive’s former employer when the restriction is reasonable.

  • Misappropriation and use of a company’s trade secrets by a former employee may also prevent an employee who has copied information from working for a competitor

A federal district court judge in New Jersey imposed a preliminary injunction that will prohibit a former executive from working for a competitor for at least a year.  The decision was based on both the existence of a restrictive covenant and the departing executive’s having copied data from his prior employer at the time of his departure.sunbelt

Resignation by Executive to Work for Competitor

The case,  Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. v. Love (opinion here) is particularly notable as a lesson in how not to resign a high-level position.  Because even if the trial judge had not enforced the restrictive covenant in the executive’s employment contract, the fact that he copied proprietary information by emailing customer lists and other data to his brother before his resignation doomed any defense to the preliminary injunction. Continue reading

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