Knowledge gained through experience and exposure is among one of the most valuable assets any top executive can bring to the table. In many cases, individuals at this level have inside knowledge of a company's financial outlook, product development plans and marketing strategy. When these individuals are hired, employers often require employees at the executive level to sign some sort of non-compete agreement.
What happens, however, if an employee decides to leave a company and head directly towards the door of a competing business? Once man who formerly held an executive position at the technolgoy company Motorola may soon find out as he's currently at the center of a lawsuit filed by his former employer.
The 53-year-old executive resigned from the wireless provider and subsequently revealed his plans to take a senior-level position with a competitor. This decision, however, sparked outrage among his former colleagues and officials at Motorola who contend the former executive signed a non-compete agreement. Motorola recently filed a lawsuit seeking to effectively stop the 53-year-old from taking a job with the competitor in question.
In the lawsuit, attorneys for Motorola cite the former executive's knowledge of trade secrets that, if shared with a competitor, would effectively serve to harm the company. Furthermore, this type of confidential information, they contend, cannot be erased or forgotten and would likely be used by the defendant to leverage and secure a favorable status within the new company.
Companies have a right to protect proprietary information and those thoughts, ideas and strategies that relate to a company's business practices. Businesses that have taken steps to prevent employees from sharing information considered to be trade secrets may choose to take legal action to ensure such information remains protected.
Source: Crain's Chicago Business, "Motorola sues top exec recruited by rival," John Pletz, Sep. 19, 2013