Noncompetes, Trade Secrets & Employee Fraud

In today’s competitive marketplace, protecting a company’s trade secrets, proprietary information, assets and customer relationships is critical.

We believe a proactive, preventive strategy is the best way to insulate clients from unfair competition and employee fraud. We can assist you in addressing:

  • Breach of Employment Contracts
  • Contract/Customer Interference
  • Computer Fraud
  • Electronic Communications
  • Embezzlement
  • Employee Raiding
  • Noncompete Enforcement
  • Protection of Trade Secrets
  • Theft of Company Property
  • Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices

McGuireWoods attorneys have extensive experience representing companies in enforcing noncompete, confidentiality and trade secret agreements throughout the United States. As employers have become more dependent on sophisticated technology, the need to draft comprehensive agreements and policies, and then enforce them in court through injunction proceedings, has grown ever more important. At the same time, due to rapid developments in technology, confidential information and trade secrets become stale in the blink of an eye. As a result of these and other fundamental changes, companies must have an up-to-date arsenal of cogent agreements and policies that are well-drafted and readily enforceable in court.

The Best Offense

McGuireWoods attorneys help companies protect what is theirs by drafting and enforcing effective noncompete, trade secret, and confidentiality agreements and policies. We also counsel employers on how to negotiate settlements prior to litigation and, when needed, we fight for our clients’ interests in court.

We primarily represent employers in both challenging and defending noncompetition and other similar agreements. We also represent individual employees in such matters on behalf of the companies who seek to hire them. We have pursued former employees on theories such as unfair competition, conspiracy, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, misappropriation of trade secrets, quantum meruit, breach of fiduciary duty (based on activity against the employer's interest while still employed), and similar bases. These matters are staffed by lawyers from our Labor & Employment, Commercial Litigation and Intellectual Property Litigation departments.

The Best Action

Often parties do not realize the level of commitment required to engage in such litigation until they are in the middle of it. We believe that a well-defined analysis of the risks and rewards serves our clients’ interests. That said, once the decision is made to proceed, we move rapidly and decisively to take the appropriate course of action.

Speed is often critical in such matters, and we have not only the legal experience, but also the practical experience and resources to strike quickly. We have an established network of supplemental resources such as investigators and computer forensic analysts, who allow us to maneuver effectively when prompt action is required.

Experience

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Agricultural/crop insurance provider

    Defended an agricultural/crop insurance provider in a noncompete dispute after the client hired a high-level sales executive of competitor. In Missouri, under Missouri law. Case settled favorably after we successfully defeated plaintiff’s application for preliminary injunction following 3 weeks of expedited discovery and two day trial.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Representation of a global science company in a trade secrets theft case against a South Korean manufacturing company.

    DuPont filed a civil trade secrets case in 2009 against Kolon Industries Inc. for conspiring with former employees to steal proprietary information about Kevlar™, the bulletproofing fiber used in body armor products. McGuireWoods served as lead trial counsel for DuPont in civil litigation spanning six years. Meanwhile, in 2012, the U.S. Government filed a criminal case against Kolon – in which the company pleaded guilty in April 2015. In doing so, Kolon agreed to pay $360 million in fines, ending the long-running civil and criminal disputes.

    The case is historically significant because of the size of the original verdict, the rulings on a host of key trade secrets and spoliation issues, and the resulting settlement obtained by DuPont.  It has also been cited in ongoing efforts by the Obama administration as an example of the need for enhanced federal protection of corporate trade secrets. Awarded the Global Dispute of the Year: U.S. Litigation by American Lawyer Media in 2015.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    American packaging company

    Obtained temporary injunction against former executive for breach of noncompetition agreement and threatened misappropriation of trade secrets.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Aftermarket undercar manufacturer/distributor

    Representation of aftermarket undercar manufacturer/distributor in trade secrets suit. Received default judgment, including a grant of injunctive relief permanently enjoining the defendant from using any misappropriated trade secrets and enjoining the defendant from competing with our client for a period of three years in China and the United States. Our client was awarded compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.

  • REPRESENTATIVE MATTER

    Investment subsidiary of a Fortune 100 financial institution

    Representation of investment subsidiary of a Fortune 100 financial institution in trade secrets case. Obtained temporary restraining order and subsequently negotiated a favorable settlement concerning three financial services brokers who surreptitiously and carefully orchestrated a plan to misappropriate trade secrets and to use that information to solicit their former employer’s customers to transfer their accounts to their new employer.

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