Our Oak Brook covenant not to compete attorneys were interested to see a major non-compete lawsuit happening right here in Chicago. FierceWireless.com reported Jan. 19 that wireless telephone giant Motorola sued former executive David Hartsfield in federal court, claiming he will inevitably disclose Motorola’s confidential business information if he is allowed to take a new job at Finnish wireless phone company Nokia. Motorola is seeking a restraining order to prevent Hartsfield from taking the job.
Hartsfield resigned in December from a job developing CDMA technology at Motorola to take the position of vice president of CDMA at Nokia. In its lawsuit, Motorola claims that the non-disclosure agreement in Hartsfield’s employment contract will be violated if he takes the job. In particular, Motorola claims that it needs to protect product and pricing strategies. Hartsfield has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, arguing that it unreasonably interferes with his ability to make a living, and that Motorola has not identified any wrongdoing on his part. He also plans to argue that the non-disclosure agreements common in the wireless industry are not legitimate. Motorola has aggressively pursued non-compete and non-disclosure lawsuits in the past, including a 2008 non-compete lawsuit against an executive who left for Apple’s iPhone sales business. That case was dismissed in 2009.
Lubin Austermuehle is not involved in this case. However, our Northbrook, Evanston, Waukegan, Joliet, Lisle, Downers Grove, Wheaton, Naperville, Aurora, Elgin, and Chicago non-compete contract attorneys believe Hartsfield could build a strong defense, if his claims are true. Although the federal court has diversity jurisdiction, it must apply Illinois law, which requires it to identify a legitimate business interest behind non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. If there is none, the law says Motorola may not restrain the otherwise legal business activity of Hartsfield moving to a competitor. Hartsfield claims CDMA is an industry-wide standard, not a technology proprietary to Motorola. Similarly, at least some of Motorola’s pricing information must be public knowledge. That means the company may have an uphill battle proving that this knowledge, at least, is a trade secret worthy of protection.
With offices in downtown Chicago and Oak Brook, Lubin Austermuehle represents clients in legal matters related to non-compete clauses and trade secrets. Our Aurora covenant not to compete lawyers handle litigation for businesses of all sizes, from closely held family businesses to large corporations, as well as for individuals. We can also help clients avoid the expense and trouble of litigation by reviewing contracts before they agreed to them and negotiating any changes we believe are in our clients’ best interests. If your business is threatened by unfair competition, or non-compete litigation, and you’d like to explore your legal options, we would like to help. To set up a free consultation, call us today at 630-333-0333 or send us a message through our Web site.