Trade Secrets + Restrictive Covenants

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
Related Practices

Business + Commercial Litigation

Companies often face complex disputes with other businesses, government entities, or groups of individuals, which require an understanding of both the business issue and the industry of the client. Our Business Litigation practice specializes in handling these complex disputes, representing leaders in diverse industry sectors, including many Fortune 100 companies, in connection with their most important litigation matters. What sets us apart from our peers is our depth of trial and arbitration experience, class action expertise, and connections to the specialized business litigation courts across the country.
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Intellectual Property

Intellectual property assets represent significant value for businesses in the United States. For some clients, these assets represent an entire career or a body of research; for others, they're a 100-year-old trademark, or a newly acquired license. Whether it’s structuring transactions or resolving high-stakes property disputes, we understand the unique needs of each client, and anticipate how those needs will change over time. With superior experience– from scientists who’ve worked in the field, to litigators with International Trade Commission and federal court experience – we’re privileged to represent national and international companies in a broad cross-section of industries.
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Labor + Employment

Management teams of all sizes and across a broad spectrum of industries rely on Goodwin for advice and representation in all areas of labor and employment law. We provide practical advice to employers on hiring and disciplinary practices, compensation, workplace violence, privacy concerns, issues arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act, loyalty issues, and protection of employer good will and proprietary information via restrictions on post-employment competition.

Our lawyers have extensive employment litigation experience involving all significant employment law issues, including reasonable accommodation of disabilities; sexual harassment; discrimination claims arising out of reductions in force; individual disparate treatment claims; wrongful discharge/public policy claims; employment contract and employee benefits claims; wage and hour disputes; and enforcement of noncompetition obligations.

Read More

Privacy + Cybersecurity

As businesses today face an increasingly sophisticated threat environment compounded by aggressive regulatory enforcement, companies need a partner who can help mitigate risk and respond to the unthinkable. Our Privacy + Cybersecurity practice is one of the longest-standing of any AmLaw 50 firm. Dating back to the late 1990s and established formally in 2004, our practice is fully integrated and leverages the firm's core strengths, with the group's lawyers coming from our technology, financial institutions, licensing, litigation, regulatory and appellate practices. Our unique approach, focusing on client needs and value, enables us to engage specialists whose experience is framed by a holistic understanding of clients' greatest risks in this threatening environment.

Read More
Related Practices
Business + Commercial Litigation
Companies often face complex disputes with other businesses, government entities, or groups of individuals, which require an understanding of both the business issue and the industry of the client. Our Business Litigation practice specializes in handling these complex disputes, representing leaders in diverse industry sectors, including many Fortune 100 companies, in connection with their most important litigation matters. What sets us apart from our peers is our depth of trial and arbitration experience, class action expertise, and connections to the specialized business litigation courts across the country.
Read More
Intellectual Property
Intellectual property assets represent significant value for businesses in the United States. For some clients, these assets represent an entire career or a body of research; for others, they're a 100-year-old trademark, or a newly acquired license. Whether it’s structuring transactions or resolving high-stakes property disputes, we understand the unique needs of each client, and anticipate how those needs will change over time. With superior experience– from scientists who’ve worked in the field, to litigators with International Trade Commission and federal court experience – we’re privileged to represent national and international companies in a broad cross-section of industries.
Read More
Labor + Employment

Management teams of all sizes and across a broad spectrum of industries rely on Goodwin for advice and representation in all areas of labor and employment law. We provide practical advice to employers on hiring and disciplinary practices, compensation, workplace violence, privacy concerns, issues arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act, loyalty issues, and protection of employer good will and proprietary information via restrictions on post-employment competition.

Our lawyers have extensive employment litigation experience involving all significant employment law issues, including reasonable accommodation of disabilities; sexual harassment; discrimination claims arising out of reductions in force; individual disparate treatment claims; wrongful discharge/public policy claims; employment contract and employee benefits claims; wage and hour disputes; and enforcement of noncompetition obligations.

Read More
Privacy + Cybersecurity

As businesses today face an increasingly sophisticated threat environment compounded by aggressive regulatory enforcement, companies need a partner who can help mitigate risk and respond to the unthinkable. Our Privacy + Cybersecurity practice is one of the longest-standing of any AmLaw 50 firm. Dating back to the late 1990s and established formally in 2004, our practice is fully integrated and leverages the firm's core strengths, with the group's lawyers coming from our technology, financial institutions, licensing, litigation, regulatory and appellate practices. Our unique approach, focusing on client needs and value, enables us to engage specialists whose experience is framed by a holistic understanding of clients' greatest risks in this threatening environment.

Read More

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