Employee Mobility and Trade Secrets

Intellectual property, confidential information, and the employees entrusted with this information are among your most valuable assets. Consequently, loss of employee knowledge and critical company data can have a negative impact on your competitive position. Venable's team of trade secret attorneys has the experience and knowledge to help protect you against the theft of intellectual property and to keep your trade secrets safe. 

As opposed to other forms of intellectual property (i.e., patents, trademarks, and copyrights), confidential information, ideas, and property should be treated as trade secrets. Trade secrets can be held indefinitely, while other forms of intellectual property are only enforceable for a limited period of time. Additionally, trade secrets can protect valuable business secrets that cannot be protected otherwise. This includes confidential corporate data, customer lists, formulae, and applications that may exist on a notepad, in a filing cabinet, or in the mind of a former employee.

Integrated Legal Services

We regularly advise clients on how to protect against the theft of their intellectual property from both external and internal threats. Drawing on our experience counseling companies across many industries and jurisdictions, we provide the following services: 

  • Review of pertinent employee agreements and proprietary information agreements relevant to hiring and retaining employees
  • Counsel related to the protection of trade secrets and avoiding misappropriation claims
  • Strategic counsel related to the hiring of a competitor's employees
  • Design and implementation of effective information security programs and policies to prevent intentional or inadvertent loss of data

Clients often turn to us when faced with high-stakes trade secret issues. Our litigators regularly seek or defend against emergency relief, including temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions. Our litigators frequently appear before juries, judges, and arbitrators to try cases involving the misappropriation of trade secrets, the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, restrictive covenants, employee raiding, customer raiding, and departures of key employees. We draw upon our experience in employment law, workplace privacy, technology, and forensics to achieve results for our clients. Our lawyers partner with you to formulate and implement practical controls to ensure that incoming and outgoing employees abide by their employment obligations.

A Strategic Approach to Safeguarding Trade Secrets

We strive to provide strategic advice and counsel surrounding the many pressure points associated with employee recruiting and dismissal, including counsel relating to those who possess trade secrets and restrictive covenants. Litigating trade secrets cases does sometimes pose a risk. For example, the subject of the dispute can be disclosed through the litigation process. Recognizing this risk, we have worked with our clients to engage in informal discovery and negotiate resolution of highly sensitive trade secrets disputes without litigation, often with the use of monitoring protocols. We also draft confidentiality, non-compete, non-solicit, pre-invention assignment, and equity-based compensation arrangements and agreements, along with policy manuals on information ownership and protection designed to mitigate potential risks in the future.

Rapid Response to Elevated Disputes

Our lawyers are able to identify potentially volatile situations, and react to situations that may arise suddenly and require litigation. We have extensive experience in situations where litigation ultimately is the best approach and are always ready to vigorously defend our clients' interests.

Recognition
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  • Highly ranked by Chambers USA, Labor & Employment
  • Ranked in U.S. News-Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms," 2011 – 2017 
    • Tier 1 Labor Law – Management (National; Baltimore; DC)
    • Tier 1 Litigation – Labor and Employment (National; Baltimore) 
  • Attorneys with top rankings by
    • Chambers USA
    • Best Lawyers in America