Non-competition clauses are common in the technology industry and have recently made headlines again. IBM filed a suit against its ex-executive with allegations that her new position violates a year-long non-compete agreement. This has allowed for the company to implement similar efforts, in order to increase diversity.
The executive that worked for IBM for a period of greater than two decades, is now being sued on the basis of violating a non-compete agreement. She was said to have “abruptly resigned” making it all seem more like a ploy. Being a senior, she had knowledge of sensitive material and secrets that included recruitment strategies, plans, and initiatives. It is alleged that this information will be also utilized in her work performed for Microsoft and is, therefore, a violation of terms. IBM complained that, whether intentional or not, using and disclosing, its confidential and sensitive information would place the company at a competitive disadvantage. According to them, it is “inevitable” that she will not be able to do so. They further went on to state that she possesses “non-public diversity data, strategies, and initiatives — can cause real and immediate competitive harm.”
IBM sued in their filing, within a New York Federal Court, and succeeded in getting a restraining order preventing their ex-employee, who led diversity efforts from joining Microsoft. The conditions which IBM wish to impose are rather broad. It included a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction to prevent her from working for a year, in any position, anywhere in the world and for any company that is a competitor to IBM.
The ranking official was at the center of highly confidential and competitively sensitive information that has fueled IBM’s success in these areas. Some of the confidential and sensitive information was about IBM’s diversity strategies, hiring targets, technologies, and innovations. Other issues are also being addressed in the case and coming under scrutiny; this includes Microsoft’s need to deal with mounting criticism of its record on diversity. IBM also pointed to Microsoft’s attempts to keep details about its diversity efforts secret in the courtroom context as well.
In their defense, Microsoft was pleased to have the new employee on board and have made it clear that they have no interest in IBM’s confidential information. Corporate culture in both places is very different and she would have to meet the vision and goals as required by Microsoft. For that reason, IBM’s diversity-related trade secrets are of no value to Microsoft and they will not be able to use the new role acquired, Bloomberg reported citing her lawyers.
Within the technology world, it is not uncommon to see suits over non-compete agreements. Normally, suits are brought higher ranking leaders or engineers, not human resources or within the chief diversity office. The suit continues. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that the Judge, Vincent Briccetti, temporarily barred her from moving to Microsoft.
For more information, please choose to follow the case further at International Business Machines Corp. v. McIntyre, 18-cv-01210, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains.)
Our Chicago non-compete agreement attorneys have defended high-level executives in a covenant not to compete and trade secret lawsuits. A case in which our firm defended a former Motorola executive was covered in Crain’s Chicago Business. You can view that article by clicking here.
Lubin Austermuehle a firm of Chicago business dispute lawyers handles litigation over non-compete clauses for individuals and businesses of all sizes, including small or closely held businesses for whom competition from an ex-employee can be a serious threat. Our Chicago business lawyers with offices near Kenilworth and Winnetka have substantial experience in restrictive covenant and breach of contract cases, and we are proud of our record of strong results. We have successfully represented a number of doctors in non-compete, partnership, and other business disputes. We understand the complexities of physician partnership and non-compete agreements.
Lubin Austermuehle a Chicago business litigation law firm represents both plaintiffs and defendants in such cases, and can also help stop litigation before it starts by reviewing contracts to look for covenants and clauses that could create problems later. Our firm has also handled many shareholders and LLC disputes between owners of closely held corporations, and LLCs.
Based in Oakbrook Terrace and downtown Chicago, our Barrington and Geneva non-compete agreement and business dispute lawyers take cases from Bannockburn and Lake Forest and many other cities throughout Illinois, as well as in Indiana, Wisconsin and the entire United States. To learn more or set up a free consultation, please contact one of our Chicago business dispute lawyers through the Internet or call toll-free at (833) 306-4933 today.
Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Hinsdale non-compete agreement litigation attorneys have more than three decades of experience helping clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state non-compete and trade secret theft laws. Our Chicago business dispute attorneys also represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners, shareholders, and LLC members as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Barrington and Kenilworth, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.