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Non-Competition & Trade Secrets

  • Overview
  • Attorneys & Professionals
  • Updates, News & Presentations
  • Representative Experience

Theft of trade secrets, disloyalty and employee raiding can irreparably damage your business. With a proactive legal strategy, you can help prevent threats from occurring in the first place and protect yourself when they do.

Trade secrets and other proprietary information are often among a business’s most valuable assets. For this reason, it is essential to take every effort to protect your information assets, including using non-competition agreements. But even with these precautions in place, your competitors, suppliers, departing and former employees, and others may seek to misappropriate your information for their own benefit.

If you fall victim to such an attack, quick and decisive action is critical. Our non-competition and trade secrets attorneys are ready to serve you at a moment’s notice. We routinely handle these matters within a matter of days or even hours, and frequently obtain emergency relief for our clients. Should your case need to go beyond the emergency relief phase, you’ll benefit from our firm’s extensive trial and appellate experience, where we’ve established a strong record of achieving victories for our clients.

Our services include:

  • High stakes trade secret litigation

  • Emergency injunctive relief

  • Investigations of trade secret theft

  • Evaluation of restrictive covenants

  • Trade secret policies and best practices

  • Pre-litigation dispute resolution

  • Individual defense

Whether you represent a small or large organization, or are an individual requiring defense against accusations of wrongdoing, Godfrey & Kahn attorneys can help.

Peter Albrecht

Albrecht, Peter L.

Shareholder
Madison
608.284.2218608.284.2218
Michael Apfeld

Apfeld, Michael B.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9500414.287.9500
Anthony Baish

Baish, Anthony S.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9435414.287.9435
Nina Beck

Beck, Nina G.

Associate
Milwaukee
414.287.9633414.287.9633
Christie Carrino

Carrino, Christie B.

Associate
Milwaukee
414.287.9341414.287.9341
Erin (Maggie) Cook

Cook, Erin (Maggie) M.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9569414.287.9569
Annie Eiden

Eiden, Annie L.

Shareholder
Green Bay
920.436.7691920.436.7691
Brian Gilpin

Gilpin, Brian G.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9317414.287.9317
Jennifer Gregor

Gregor, Jennifer L.

Shareholder
Madison
608.284.2629608.284.2629
John Haase

Haase, John A.

Shareholder
Green Bay
920.436.7669920.436.7669
Paul Heaton

Heaton, Paul F.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9601414.287.9601
Emma Jewell

Jewell, Emma J.

Associate
Milwaukee
414.287.9528414.287.9528
John Kirtley

Kirtley, John L.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9685414.287.9685
Maria Kreiter

Kreiter, Maria L.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9466414.287.9466
Rebeca López

López, Rebeca M.

Associate
Milwaukee
414.287.9634414.287.9634
Aaron McCann

McCann, Aaron P.

Associate
Green Bay
920.436.7671920.436.7671
Allison Reimann

Reimann, Allison W.

Shareholder
Madison
608.284.2625608.284.2625
Brian Spahn

Spahn, Brian C.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9314414.287.9314

Representative Experience

Godfrey & Kahn’s Non-Competition & Trade Secrets Litigation team has vast expertise:  

  1. Enforcing and defending claims for the alleged breach of non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements
  2. Pursuing or defending claims of unfair competition and theft of trade secrets or other competitive intelligence
  3. Pursuing or opposing emergency requests for an injunction or temporary restraining order

Our experience in this area spans the U.S., and our attorneys have obtained favorable results—including on many requests for emergency relief—in multiple jurisdictions.

Non-competition, non-solicitation and other restrictive agreements

  • Our team members obtained an award of more than $2 million, including punitive damages, in a contested FINRA arbitration on behalf of a client. The arbitration panel ruled in client’s favor that departing employee breached both a non-solicitation and confidentiality agreement. The panel also held the departing employee’s new employer was jointly and severally liable for the award, as it had induced the breach. Prior to the arbitration proceeding, Godfrey & Kahn also obtained both a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on behalf of the client.
  • When our client sought enforcement of a restrictive covenant against a departing employee, our team members secured a landmark decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which held that continued at-will employment constitutes lawful consideration to support a restrictive covenant signed by a current employee.
  • In nationwide litigation involving simultaneous actions in multiple states, our team members obtained stipulated injunctions in favor of our client. Those injunctions held defendants to the terms of their contractual non-competition and non-solicitation obligations.
  • A client’s top regional salesperson resigned to accept employment with the client’s direct competitor. Godfrey & Kahn, on behalf of the client, successfully enforced the terms of the salesperson’s non-competition agreement, including by securing a temporary restraining order within days of the employee’s departure. Upon entry of the TRO, the salesperson agreed to resign from his new position and the case was later settled favorably.
  • After instituting a FINRA arbitration on behalf of a client against departing employees who breached the terms of their non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements, our team members obtained a high-dollar settlement in favor of the client.
  • On the eve of a jury trial to address claims against a client relating to alleged breaches of restrictive covenants, Godfrey & Kahn obtained a settlement, resolving the case favorably for the client without the need for a trial.
  • Our team members prevailed on a motion to dismiss a complaint alleging breach of a non-competition agreement, with the presiding court agreeing that the relevant provision was unenforceable as a matter of law.

Unfair competition and trade secrets

  • A departing, high-level executive engaged in a massive data theft immediately before purported date of retirement, in an effort to get a “head start” in a new, personal endeavor. Our team uncovered much of the theft by engaging in a detailed data breach analysis. After confronting the departing executive with evidence of the theft, our team secured a favorable settlement on behalf of the client, requiring the departing executive to agree to amended restrictive covenants, reduced buyout and removal from leadership position.
  • After a departing employee took proprietary bid information to a new employer and used it to unfairly compete, our team members obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of the client, providing compensation for the loss and heightened obligations preventing further solicitation.
  • In a case alleging employee raiding by a client, Godfrey & Kahn moved for and largely prevailed on a motion to dismiss. The presiding court’s ruling, which dismissed a substantial portion of the case, led to a walk-away settlement.
  • On behalf of departing-employee clients, our team members obtained the dismissal of a seven-count complaint alleging various types of unfair competition, including theft of trade secrets. Plaintiff appealed but agreed to a nominal settlement before a ruling on appeal.
  • Former employees, on behalf of their new employer, accessed a client’s databases and stole multiple computer drives’ worth of proprietary data. Godfrey & Kahn’s analysis revealed the vast extent of the theft. Matter was settled favorably, including obtaining the return of proprietary data on the courthouse steps. Shortly before our team members were to file a complaint and motion seeking a temporary restraining order, the employees and their new employer agreed to settlement.
  • Forensic analysis, spearheaded by our team members, revealed that a client’s former employee wiped his computer prior to departure. This revelation was strong evidence of the former employee’s theft of trade secrets and violation of a non-competition agreement and led to favorable settlement with both monetary and heightened-restrictive-covenant components.

Emergency relief

  • Shortly after the COVID-19 shutdowns began, our team members obtained a temporary restraining order on behalf of a client against a departing employee who had stolen data. The presiding court issued the TRO one day after the case was filed and required the departing employee to return copies of the stolen competitive intelligence.
  • In related cases, our team members successfully defended clients—both corporate and individual—against requests for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions that would have prevented the solicitation of certain customers and engaging in sales activities in specified territories on behalf of the corporate client. The presiding court’s rejection of the TRO request prompted a favorable settlement for our corporate and individual clients.
  • A former employer sued an entire departing team, asserting ten separate claims for alleged data theft. On behalf of several of the individual members of the departing team, Godfrey & Kahn defeated a request for a temporary restraining order, then later successfully moved for partial dismissal of the claims.
  • In many cases involving alleged breaches of restrictive covenants and/or theft of trade secrets, our attorneys have successfully both obtained and defended against requests for emergency injunctive relief, such as temporary restraining orders. Often, our team members’ efforts in this regard have been successful even with a turnaround of mere days or even hours.

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