The Difficulties in Obtaining Relief Under the Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016

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The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”) provides a new tool in the form of an ex parte seizure for businesses and individuals to safeguard their trade secrets after misappropriation has occurred. Unfortunately, many trade secret owners have discovered that obtaining this form of relief is no easy task. Continue reading

Employment Agreements, Confidentiality Clauses & Whistleblower Rights – a Balancing Act

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Due to regulatory actions intended to protect employee whistleblowing, it has become standard for severance agreements to specify that nothing in the agreement, including the agreement’s confidentiality clause, prevents the employee from speaking with regulators about possible violations of the law.

But what about other employment agreements that have confidentiality clauses?

Employees sign all sorts of agreements with confidentiality restrictions, ranging from offer letters to deferred compensation award agreements. Must these agreements also exempt whistleblowing from their confidentiality obligations?

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2016 Trade Secret/Restrictive Covenant Year-In-Review

2016, DTSA, Illinois, White House, Guidance to HR

Having flipped the calendar over to a new year, here’s a look back at some of the developments in trade secrets and restrictive covenants that shaped the law in 2016. Some major developments came not from the courts, but from the legislative and executive branches—both federal and state.
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Illinois Non-Compete Ban for Low-Wage Workers Goes into Effect January 1, 2017

Illinois, Non-Compete, Illinois Freedom to Work Act

Illinois employers have a new law to be mindful of beginning this new year. That’s when the Illinois Freedom to Work Act (the “Act”) goes into effect banning the use of non-compete agreements with low-wage employees. 

The Act prohibits employers from entering into “covenants not to compete” with “low-wage employees” after January 1, 2017, and declares void any covenant entered into in violation of the Act. The new law does not apply to covenants not to compete entered into before January 1st. Continue reading

The Illinois AG’s Suit Against Jimmy John’s On Non-Competes – What It Means For Employers

Jimmy John's, Non-Compete

The Illinois Attorney General filed suit in June 2016 against Jimmy John’s for its use of non-competes with low-wage workers. This suit – which appears to be the first of its kind – alleges Jimmy John’s use of non-competes violates Illinois law and hurts Illinois residents and businesses by limiting the pool of available workers and artificially suppressing wages.

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White House Report On Non-Competes – Are The Feds Taking Over Employee Competition Law?

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What is up with the federal government’s new-found interest in non-competes and other legal issues that arise when employees move between competitors?

First the Treasury Department issued a report on the impact of non-compete agreements on the economy. Then Congress passed the Defense of Trade Secrets Act. And then, in May of this year, the White House issued its own report on non-compete agreements.

What do these federal initiatives mean? And how do these changes effect employers and employees? Continue reading

Can Business Contacts On An Employee’s LinkedIn Account Be A Protectable Trade Secret?

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Over the last few years, ownership of LinkedIn contacts has become a continuing source of disputes. If employees decide, or are even encouraged, to connect with an employer’s customers on LinkedIn, must they “unlink” with those contacts when they leave the company? According to a California federal court, an employee’s retention of those contacts “might” be considered misappropriation of the employer’s trade secrets.

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