In an employment marketplace where it is not unusual for employees to leave one company and jump ship to a competitor, the protection of valuable trade secrets and confidential business information has become an increasing concern for employers. In today’s business world, companies can no longer protect their trade secrets simply by filing away a signed noncompete or nondisclosure agreement for each key employee or vendor. Critical strategic information can be accessed, copied and transmitted in an instant. Legal counsel must stand ready to help your company anticipate these risks and respond with speed and decisiveness when breaches occur.
Battle Tested Experience Across the United States and Beyond
Our clients’ employment and commercial relationships are rarely confined to a single state, and neither are our noncompete and trade secrets capabilities. Knowing which state will provide the most favorable law and forum for a particular dispute requires the strategic judgment of a team with truly national trial experience. As national counsel to clients with operations across the United States, we bring unusually broad geographic experience to these disputes. And our capability does not stop at the U.S. border. We are highly experienced in obtaining evidence under international law and assisting our clients in cross-border discovery.
Meeting New Challenges With Innovative Solutions
Rapidly evolving technology and globalization are transforming business needs, and creative counsel must look beyond established law to meet new challenges. Our lawyers have a strong track record of pushing the envelope to achieve innovative litigation solutions.
A high-profile example is PepsiCo, Inc. v. Redmond and Quaker Oats Co., 54 F. 3d. 1262 (7th Cir. 1995), one of the most significant and frequently cited trade secrets decisions of the past 20 years. In Redmond, our lawyers invoked the “inevitable disclosure” doctrine to obtain an injunction prohibiting competition from a former executive — without a noncompete agreement.
In the following years, when e-discovery revolutionized trade secrets litigation, our attorneys were again pioneers. Team leaders won some of the first trade secrets decisions imposing case-ending sanctions for spoliating electronic data. In response to the new challenges of cybersecurity and data privacy, we are once again at the forefront of developing strategies for trade secrets protection as integrated data protection solutions.
The same legal remedies that provide essential protections for owners of trade secrets and other confidential and proprietary information can also be used by plaintiffs to stifle legitimate competition. Defendants facing such litigation often turn to us for an aggressive defense against abusive litigation. We have deep and broad experience representing employers who engage in lawful and fair competition, yet face targeted litigation designed to undermine legitimate acquisition of talented employees.
Putting the Right Protections in Place
The best way to protect sensitive business information is to prevent breaches before they happen. Schiff Hardin’s employment attorneys often provide counseling and advice to companies who wish to protect their trade secrets and confidential business information, and we have drafted numerous confidentiality, non-compete, and non-solicitation agreements. Our team helps clients design and implement information protection programs to anticipate and avoid the security breaches that can necessitate litigation. We work closely with our firm’s Cybersecurity and Data Privacy team to maximize client preparedness. Having the right protections in place — appropriate and up-to-date policies, contracts, firewalls and incident response plans — provides a strong basis for litigation preparedness if and when resort to the courts becomes necessary.