Employment, Labor & Benefits

Employee Mobility, Noncompetes & Trade Secrets

Keeping trade secrets secret is vital to a company’s success. But sensitive information has never been at greater risk of falling into the wrong hands. Technology and the increased mobility of the workforce make today’s global marketplace a risky environment for data and information theft. Whether you are an employer fighting to maintain your competitive edge or an executive looking to avoid legal action, you need to take the right steps to protect your interests.

Mintz Levin has a broad-based team of knowledgeable attorneys to assist you. Commanding substantial experience across US and international jurisdictions with noncompete agreements, trade secret laws, and other issues relating to employee mobility, we have helped companies across a wide range of industries protect their confidential information and trade secrets — developing proactive strategies, and, when necessary, representing our clients’ interests in court. We also provide practical counsel to help executives avoid mistakes that could put them or their new employers in jeopardy.

Quick Facts

  • Attorneys with 20+ years of experience with noncompete issues and trade secret law in multiple jurisdictions worldwide
  • Backed by 100+ litigators
  • Prosecute, defend, and try noncompete and trade secret actions
  • Multidisciplinary practice, including privacy, intellectual property, and immigration attorneys
  • Trade secret and unfair competition protections, including covenants not to compete, nonsolicitation provisions, no-hire clauses, and other post-employment restrictions

Areas of Focus

  • Litigate noncompete restrictions and trade secret protections in federal and state courts and at arbitration
  • Draft noncompete agreements with employees, independent contractors, joint venture partners, and others
  • Provide multijurisdictional representation
  • Anticipate and minimize risk of parallel actions
Case Study: Noncompete / Trade Secrets Litigation

When two former sales directors of a private jet service opened their own company operating in direct competition with our client, we filed a complaint that helped protect our client’s position in the marketplace. Persuaded by the evidence we presented, the court issued a preliminary injunction against the former employees for violating confidentiality, noncompetition, and nonsolicitation agreements. They were ordered to return confidential materials and refrain from further violating their contracts, soliciting our client’s customers, and working with the new company for a period of five years.

Case Study: Noncompete Litigation

Our attorneys defended three new sales professionals at an Israeli start-up medical device company when they were served with a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction by their previous employer. Although that company had proof that one of the individuals e-mailed company business files to his personal account, we discovered multiple gaps in the two defendants’ confidentiality agreements, and revealed that they had been allowed to remain at the company an additional two weeks after their resignations — with computer access. The judge denied the motion for preliminary injunctive relief.

Case Study: Breach of Contract / Trade Secrets Arbitration

Mintz Levin represented a start-up client in a confidential arbitration involving the former chief technology officer (CTO) of the company who had filed in his own name key patents related to the company’s core technology and intellectual property. The arbitration was languishing and focused on the former CTO’s claims against the company until Mintz Levin was retained. Our attorneys then changed the strategy of the company, filed an amended claim against the CTO with claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and misappropriation of trade secrets and then prevailed on a motion to dismiss those claims, which led to the company being assigned all of the patents as well as getting the return of all of its proprietary information.

Case Study: Trade Secrets Litigation

Mintz Levin represented a chief financial officer (CFO) who was alleged to have misappropriated trade secrets when he attempted to bring a management buyout plan to the attention of the company’s board of directors. When the board learned of the plans, the company filed suit against the CFO, claiming that information the CFO gleaned during his employment must have been disclosed in the process of preparing the management buyout plan. Mintz Levin made new law when the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment against the CFO, clarifying the meaning of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Mintz Levin also successfully obtained full indemnity for the CFO with respect to the legal fees and costs associated with this litigation.

Case Study: Noncompete Arbitration

We represented a San Diego-based medical device company in an arbitration brought by a direct competitor alleging that our client’s employment of its former executive violated the executive’s two-year noncompete agreement. We obtained a verdict in the arbitration that included a reduction in the executive’s noncompete agreement to just one year, which allowed for the executive to begin work at our clients company shortly after the completion of the arbitration.

Representative Experience

  • Defeated a multimillion-dollar prescription drug distributor’s motion for preliminary injunction against a former compliance officer.
  • After a bench trial, obtained six figure money judgment for ex-employer suing to enforce a noncompete agreement that former employees said was extinguished by a merger.
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of a publicly traded medical device company and two sales executives in a noncompete action brought by the sales executives’ former employer, a Fortune 100 medical device company.
  • Won denial of motion for injunctive relief against key employees of an investment banking group who left to work for a direct competitor.
  • Represented a durable medical equipment distributor and orthotic and prosthetic services provider that sued a benefit management company and others for violating confidentiality agreements, unfair competition, and other business torts arising from misappropriated trade secrets.
  • Represented the owners of a small business in the successful negotiation of a separation agreement with the company’s president and CEO, resulting in the company and its owners receiving a complete release from the terminated employee with no monetary consideration paid to the employee from the company.

Clients We Serve

  • All industries, including financial services, health care, manufacturing, and professional services
  • C-level executives
  • Fortune 500 companies
  • Start-ups and emerging companies