Trade Secrets come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as complicated as the recipe for a favorite soft drink or can be as straight forward as a list of clients for a particular company. Whatever the trade secret, they are crucial, essential and sensitive pieces of information many company is willing to litigate over to protect. Companies go out of their way to protect such assets when they hire new employees. There are many ways to protect trade secrets. Non-compete, non-solicitation and/or non-disclose clauses within an employee agreement are just a few ways protection can be sought.
In Triumph Packing Group v. Ward, 834 F. Supp. 2d 796 (N.D. Ill. 2011), Triumph, a privately-owned manufacturer of packing supplier to large supplies of consumer goods, brought a suit against Mr. Ward, Chief Operating Officer of Triumph, who was fired in 2011. Upon employment with Triumph, Ward signed an employment agreement which included a non-compete clauses as well as a non-solicitation clause. After time spent at Triumph, it was discovered that Ward had been allegedly diverting resources from his employer to allegedly engage in business with a former customer of Triumph, as well as to allegedly fund new business endeavors with AGI, a global packing company who hired Ward as their Vice President. Through his employment with Triumph, Mr. Ward was able to allegedly obtain Triumph’s customer and pricing information. Triumph argued that Mr. Ward had obtained “lean manufacturing and efficient operations” which Triumph deduced to be trade secrets. Triumph argued that Mr. Ward would inevitably misappropriate Triumph’s trade secrets with his new businesses endeavors. Ward denied all of the claims. Continue reading