Companies commonly employ non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants to protect the company’s legitimate business interests against piracy and unfair competition, particularly to protect against those employees given access to the company’s trade secrets and confidential information. Regrettably, such agreements are also required by certain companies of all or virtually all employees, even in the absence of such legitimate concerns to stifle legitimate competition and employee mobility.
Phillips Lytle attorneys have an established record of successfully litigating and/or resolving a wide variety of restrictive covenant and trade secret disputes. Our attorneys work to not only protect intellectual property and trade secrets, but to enforce legitimate restrictive covenants and recoup any damages that may have been incurred due to the theft of trade secrets. Our attorneys have litigated these cases in bet-the-company, complex disputes; disagreements arising from the purchase or sale of a business; and improper actions by employees, shareholders, partners and competitors. Phillips Lytle has also successfully represented companies and employees in defeating anti-competitive claims attempting to enforce overbroad or otherwise unenforceable restrictive covenants or legally insufficient confidential information and trade secret claims.
Phillips Lytle has successfully represented companies in trade secret disputes involving competitors and former employees. Representing an employer in an action for misappropriation, Phillips Lytle obtained a determination from the Appellate Division, Fourth Department that documents containing customer-specific information constituted wrongfully misappropriated trade secrets and proprietary information (Marcone APW, LLC v. Servall Co., 85 A.D.3d 1693 (4th Dep’t 2011)). In Marcone, former employees copied proprietary information about clients, which they then used to solicit clients for a competitor. Phillips Lytle obtained a preliminary injunction—which was upheld on appeal—preventing the use of the misappropriated information.
Phillips Lytle has also successfully represented companies and employees in defeating anti-competitive restrictive covenants and tort claims. Representing a discharged employee and her new employer, Phillips Lytle first obtained a landmark determination from New York’s highest court that the Florida choice of law clause governing the employment agreement’s restrictive covenants was offensive to New York public policy and unenforceable (Brown & Brown, Inc. v. Johnson, 25 N.Y.3d 364, 12 N.Y.S.3d 606, 34 N.E.3d 357 ). Through successful trial and subsequent appeal, Phillips Lytle then established that the agreement was entirely unenforceable and that the information at issue was neither confidential, nor trade secrets—resulting in all contract and tort claims being dismissed against the employee and her new employer (Brown & Brown, Inc. v. Johnson, 158 A.D.3d 1148, 71 N.Y.S.3d 255 [4th Dep’t 2018]).