Trade Secrets, Employee Mobility & Non-Competes

Proprietary information provides companies with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. When employees, competitors, or business partners misappropriate trade secrets or poach key employees, the damage to the company can be extreme. Similarly, accusations of trade secret misappropriation, breach of restrictive covenants, or related claims can threaten a company’s reputation as well as its ability to attract financing and conduct business.

Companies need creative solutions to guard against theft or misuse of this information. We work closely with our clients to design and implement effective policies and practices to safeguard this information and to represent them in high-stakes legal battles stemming from trade secret and employee mobility disputes.

Goodwin has one of the most comprehensive, technology-focused trade secret and employee mobility practices in the nation. Our team is comprised of intellectual property, employment law, privacy and cybersecurity and business litigation specialists. We have advised and represented hundreds of cutting-edge companies, entrepreneurs, investors and startup founders facing these critical issues and disputes in innovation hubs around the world. As a result, we have extensive experience representing former employers, current employers and individual employees in trade secret and employee mobility matters.

What We Do

Strategic Counseling: Goodwin lawyers prepare policies and draft and implement restrictive covenants agreements regarding noncompetition, nondisclosure and nonsolicitation provisions in employee agreements. Trade secret issues often come into sharpest focus when an employee leaves one company to start another or work for a competitor. Such cases raise trade secret issues for all parties involved. We regularly provide strategic counseling and litigation services to clients who find themselves in these circumstances. We advise clients on the identification of trade secrets and other protectable information, and the establishment, maintenance and enforcement of programs to protect this information.

Trade Secret and Employee Mobility Litigation: Trade secret and employee mobility litigation has increased exponentially in recent years. Because of the relative ease with which proprietary information can be transferred, the risk of misappropriated trade secrets is a constant threat. Trade secret cases are time sensitive; once the information is exchanged, there may be little recourse. We understand the threat, and move immediately to obtain or block applications for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions or develop and implement creative risk mitigation strategies to drive efficient, successful outcomes. 

Transactions: When investors consider funding a new startup, or when a small company needs to prepare for attracting venture capital, or when companies consider a merger or acquisition, conducting diligence on trade secret issues is often a necessary component. We routinely undertake deal diligence, identify risks and propose creative solutions to resolve trade secret concerns. 

Our Experience

  • Prosecuting and defending trade secrets or misappropriation claims
  • Drafting and enforcement of confidentiality, nondisclosure, noncompetition, and nonsolicitation agreements, as well as employment and independent contractor agreements
  • Developing and implementing employee onboarding and departure processes
  • Working with law enforcement under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and related statutes