Our firm spends a great deal of time representing employees who are fighting restrictive and unfair non-competition or non-compete contracts. We are also involved with employment litigation involving allegations of the theft of trade or business secrets.
Virginia has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act which defines a “trade secret” as:
…information, including but not limited to, a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:
1. Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and
2. Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
Recently, a lawsuit was filed in New York with interesting allegations over the theft of trade secrets. In the suit, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. is claiming Hilton Hotels Corp. and two of its executives stole secrets about Starwood’s luxury brands.
Starwood alleges that two former Starwood employees stole more than 100,000 electronic files before and after they joined Hilton Hotels Corp. in June 2008. The lawsuit claims that confidential information about Starwood’s W hotel brand was used to help Hilton develop its Denizen brand, which was formally launched in March.
We will do our best to follow this trial as it progresses as it should be an entertaining discussion of just what is a “trade secret” and what is required to prove the trade secret has been misappropriated by a departing employee.