Category Archives: Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

“Memorized” Trade Secrets, Quirky Question # 69

Quirky Question # 69:

One of our key employees recently took a position with a competitor.  We do not believe that he stole any of our trade secrets by taking hard copies or electronic copies of our confidential information.  We checked his computer and it does not appear that he downloaded any data or emailed any information that we consider our trade secrets.  But, what if he simply memorized our trade secrets?  Would we have any basis to seek injunctive relief to prevent him from sharing this information with our competition? Answer→

Executive Termination, Quirky Question # 1

Quirky Question # 1:

We recently terminated one of our executives “without cause.”  Under his employment contract, we are obligated to pay one year’s severance for terminations without cause.  In contrast, we have no obligation to pay him anything if he is terminated “with cause.”  Following his departure, we reviewed his computer hard drive.  We discovered two areas of concern.

First, he had downloaded pornography onto his work computer, in violation of our clear policies regarding use of company computers and sexual harassment.  Second, much to our surprise, we found on his computer a substantial number of confidential documents that he had taken from the company where he worked before joining our firm.  This too violates our company policies – we strictly prohibit employees from introducing confidential, proprietary and trade secret information belonging to a former employer into our work place, whether in hard copy or electronic form.

Had we known these facts, we would have fired the executive for cause.  Do we still have to pay him his one year severance pay? Answer→