If your former employer has accused you of stealing or misappropriating trade secrets, you need an experienced employment attorney to help you deal with the legal issues involved. Rubin Law Corporation is here for you. Call us at (310) 956-4065.
We Can Help You With Employee Mobility and Trade Secret Disputes
At Rubin Law Corporation, we represent both corporations and their employees in trade secret and employee mobility disputes and other business litigation involving allegations of:
- Misappropriation of trade secrets
- Covenants not to compete/non-compete agreements
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Non-solicitation agreements
- Duty of loyalty to an employer
- Customer lists and other confidential information
- Injunctive relief in regard to theft of trade secrets
- Unjust enrichment damages
When Do Trade Secrets Disputes Arise?
In theory, trade secret lawsuits are filed when a secret can be used to damage the business it was stolen from. In practice, these lawsuits are often used to keep a business’s most important employees from quitting and going to work for their competitors. By threatening a “misappropriation” lawsuit, a business can seek to keep you from ever quitting. Moreover, if such a lawsuit is successful, it may keep you from working in your chosen industry in the future.
How Can I Fight a Lawsuit?
The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a case like this. We can use three basic strategies against them.
1: Force Them to Specifically Define the Allegations
Section 2019.210 of California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act requires the plaintiff to define the secret they’re suing you over with “reasonable particularity” before discovery starts. We’ll demand a 2019.210 statement immediately. We will also file a protective action specifying that discovery may not continue until the plaintiff files a 2019.210 statement that doesn’t use “catch-all” language. Then, we’ll have them tell the court exactly what was supposedly stolen, so we can effectively fight the charge. This will also settle what the case will cover and what it won’t, so they can’t add any new “secrets” at the last minute.
2: Ask the Court to Preempt Any Other Claims
To further narrow the scope of the lawsuit, we’ll use Section 3426.7 of California’s Civil Code to “preempt claims based on the same nucleus of fact” as the original charge. In other words, we’ll seek to have any attempt to say the same thing using different language (like “unfair competition” or “unfair business”) shut down. The plaintiff can’t throw a laundry list of charges at you and hope something will stick. They must focus directly on their secret, unless they can point to specific acts that might legitimately damage their business. Just knowing confidential or proprietary information isn’t enough.
3: Prove the Claim Inhibits Your Professional Mobility
Most modern jobs are “at will,” meaning your employer can let you go or you can quit for any reason. Accusing an employee of stealing secrets is one way a company might try to force you to stay. Or, it might at least force you not to work in your industry again. Our goal is to persuade the jury and judge that the employer doesn’t really have a specific secret to protect; they just don’t want you to work for a competitor. That’s illegal.
According to the Business and Professions Code California, section 16600, “Except as provided in this chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in lawful profession, trade or business of any kind is to that extent void.” This right has been extended legally to cover anyone’s right to work in the profession and business of their choice. The Business and Professions Code also allows other employers to hire away another company’s employees, like it or not. A plaintiff cannot “own” an employee. That includes trying to define a particular person as a trade secret, which companies have actually attempted to do.
We Have Proven Experience in Defending and Negotiating Claims
We have won a recent jury trial and obtained a substantial verdict in the amount of $475,000 on an interference with prospective economic advantage claim we brought on behalf of a wronged employee against his former employer who interfered with his employment at his new employer. This verdict was obtained against a major aerospace corporation.
We have both defended and resolved Requests for Preliminary Injunction in a case where a prior employer sued a former employee and his new employer for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets and a variety of other related actions.
We are highly skilled at negotiating the terms of employment contracts and executive employment agreements that often may include non-compete, non-solicitation, and trade secret provisions as well as termination, and separation clauses and employee stock options and other benefits plans.
Talk to a Trade Secrets Attorney at Rubin Law Corporation Today
Do you have an executive employment contract to review? Do you need a lawyer to assist with employee mobility issues? Don’t let your previous employer intimidate you with a lawsuit. Call Rubin Law Corporation at (310) 956-4065 today.