In trade secrets litigation, the scope of any injunctive relief is always a hotly contested issue. Courts retain wide latitude to fashion an order to achieve equity. Often times, this means a court will go beyond prohibiting a defendant from using or disclosing certain, listed types of information that were improperly used or disclosed. To that end, if a court finds that more robust restrictions on competitive activity are needed, the injunction can extend to solicitation of certain accounts about whom the employee misused or accessed confidential information, or even to prohibition on taking a job altogether.
In The Right Thing v. Brown, the court determined that a former recruiter who left an outsourcing firm to join Manpower e-mailed to her personal account a number of her ex-employer's documents containing arguably sensitive business information, such as client information, price lists, and financial data. The allegedly purloined documents were sent around the time Brown quit and just before she started with Manpower.
The court had little trouble concluding that, for purposes of the temporary restraining order motion, the ex-employer was likely to prevail on claims of trade secrets misappropriation. Accordingly, it entered an (arguably vague) order barring Brown from using certain types of documents or information of her ex-employer.
Still, the court refused to take the next step and prevent Brown from working at Manpower. Aside from the problematic e-mails, there was little to indicate Brown had intended to use the information taken to target specific accounts or market segments. In light of this lack of additional, damaging evidence, the more expansive TRO request was denied.
Court: United States District Fourt for the Northern District of Ohio
Opinion Date: 2/2/09
Cite: The Right Thing, LLC v. Brown, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7464 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 2, 2009)