Can a former employer’s alleged misconduct defeat a request for injunctive relief against former employees when those departing workers take confidential information and clients to another employer? A federal appeals court recently addressed this question and decided not to apply the “unclean hands” doctrine against the employer in a trade secrets case, clearing the way for the injunction.
The difference between having a trade secret and not can come down to the steps that a company takes to protect its secrets. Most companies use agreements and establish policies, but many forget to be proactive. There are various proactive ways in which employers can monitor the manner in which employees use or disclose trade secrets, but they are not without risk. This post explores some alternatives and notes a few pitfalls to keep an eye out for.
Departing employees sometimes access workplace computer systems to obtain information for purposes of using it in competition with their employer. Employers should exercise caution when undertaking such investigations to ensure they do not violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act or the Stored Communications Act.