Labor & Employment

Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets

It’s a nightmare scenario for any employer: hours before a manager resigns to join a competitor, he copies thousands of files from a company computer and walks them out the door. Responding effectively to such threats—as Quarles & Brady did for an employer in just this situation, winning an emergency injunction and recovering the property—requires a fast-acting, experienced, and deeply informed team.

Quarles & Brady’s Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets group uses all three attributes in helping businesses preserve their hard-earned competitive advantages. Representing employers and employees in federal and state litigation across the country, we work at the demanding pace of lawsuits in this area—and frequently set it. Our large contingent of litigators in offices across the country enable us to comfortably handle the tight timelines set for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and other early motions that often prove decisive. This area of law moves quickly in another sense, too, as the law surrounding the validity of non-compete agreements continues to evolve rapidly.

Our litigation experience only sharpens our ability to represent parties in pre-dispute engagements like internal investigations and drafting cease and desist letters. We also actively counsel employers on preventative measures that can clarify responsibilities and avoid problems when employees leave. We draft non-compete agreements and non-solicitation agreements, advise on terminations, guide employers on procedures to use when separating from employees with access to proprietary information, and develop other preventative policies. Among other things, we help clients designate confidential information clearly and well ahead of time, which in turn helps to minimize this information from becoming a dispute at trial.

Quarles & Brady has represented employers from a broad range of industries, including manufacturers, technology developers, health care providers, and various businesses with large sales organizations. To maximize our industry knowledge, we call on attorneys from our intellectual property, healthcare, and other industry-specific groups to add insights to competition and trade secrets cases. Their deep knowledge often makes the difference in achieving a successful result, whether it is keeping a chicken wing distributor open through its critical Super Bowl season or having the background knowledge of how physicians’ groups operate to reach a favorable settlement with one. These scenarios, like the nightmare one above, are real examples of our own competitive advantages coming into play.