Jenner & Block

Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants

Jenner & Block’s Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants practice is at the forefront of trade secret law.  We are highly experienced at securing victories for our clients, as plaintiffs and defendants, both in and out of the courtroom.  Our interdisciplinary team comprises members of the firm’s Litigation, Intellectual Property and Labor and Employment practices.  This coordinated approach results in a team that is highly collaborative and excels at providing proactive counseling to avoid litigation and successfully and efficiently resolving litigation if it does arise.  Our attorneys have litigated trade secret cases throughout the country, in both state and federal courts, from temporary restraining orders to trial and appeals.  With a proliferation of cases aimed at protecting or attacking valuable intellectual property, trade secrets are more important than ever.

In two recent trade secrets cases representing clients as plaintiffs, Jenner & Block obtained a $940 million jury verdict in Wisconsin federal court and a $130 million settlement on the first day of trial in Washington state court.  The firm has also successfully defended its clients in trade secret litigation, resulting in pre-trial dismissals and complete defense verdicts, and provided counseling to help clients avoid disputes in the first instance.  Additionally, our attorneys have an invaluable understanding of federal security requirements, and have security clearances that allow them to work on the most highly confidential matters involving secrets that spill over from private trade secrets into state secrets.

We stand ready to protect our clients’ valuable trade secrets, to guard against any missteps during the hiring process, and to defend against allegations of wrongdoing if they arise.  Additionally, we counsel clients in how to protect their trade secrets when employees depart.          

Our litigation experience includes claims involving traditional misappropriation of trade secrets by third parties, disputes with former employees, and sophisticated hacking circumstances, including: 

  • Obtaining a $940 million jury verdict for a leading software company in a substantial trade secret/corporate espionage case against a large foreign conglomerate.  The verdict represents one of the largest trade secrets verdicts in US history and perhaps the largest verdict of any kind in Wisconsin.
  • Securing a $130 million settlement in a complex commercial, securities and intellectual property dispute involving allegations that former senior employees of our client shared trade secrets related to our client’s product strategy with their new employer, a competitor. 
  • Litigating PepsiCo, Inc. v. Redmond, the seminal Seventh Circuit case concerning the inevitable disclosure doctrine for trade secrets, both at the trial and appellate level.  The case dramatically changed the law with respect to enjoining employees from working for competitors even if they did not sign a non-compete agreement or restrictive covenant.   
  • Successfully obtaining an affirmance on appeal of a lower court’s decision to vacate a $1.26 billion dollar default judgment based on a deficiency in the complaint and to reject a bid to revive a trade secret case by individuals who claimed our client stole their idea for a beverage product. 
  • Representing to a favorable settlement an insurance broker in a dispute over theft of trade secrets and other confidential information involving more than 120 workers from several offices coast to coast who were recruited by a competitor.

We also provide a wide range of counseling to ensure that our clients’ valuable trade secrets and other confidential information are protected, such as:

  • Counseling clients in developing policies and procedures to identify and protect their trade secrets from unauthorized use or distribution, including drafting agreements that enable our clients to share their trade secrets with third parties while protecting the confidential status of the trade secrets.
  • Drafting employment and other agreements containing restrictive covenants and non-disclosure provisions regarding confidential and proprietary information.
  • Counseling clients on pre-litigation negotiations involving the on-boarding of new executives or employees whose previous employment might result in potential issues or litigation for the new employer and advising on how to minimize the risks of trade secret misappropriation by departing employees.
  • Counseling clients regarding preconditions to enforcement of certain rights contained in certain statutes, such as the recently enacted federal Defend Trade Secrets Act.
  • Counseling clients on how to protect trade secrets that are required to be disclosed to the government, such as to meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Defense.