Trade Secret and Non-Compete Litigation

When a company hires a direct competitor’s employees – whether it is an entire division or one executive or key employee – it is often followed by allegations of a breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, and/or trade secret misappropriation. Demands for injunctive relief that prevent or restrict a company from doing business are common in these cases.

Whether the company is a startup or has offices around the globe, the stakes are often high for all involved and emotions can run deep because distrust and anger are involved. The ability of workers to develop their careers or better their livelihoods, the ability for businesses to freely compete for clients, and the rights of companies to protect their methods, processes, customer information and reputation, are often in tension. Whether in defense or prosecution, success depends on knowledgeable and aggressive counsel.

The Trade Secret Litigation Employee Mobility team at Weintraub Tobin has ample experience in defending and prosecuting these types of claims. Our attorneys successfully defend and prosecute trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, and “corporate raiding” cases involving millions of dollars in claimed damages. In these cases, our attorneys regularly obtain and defend against the issuance of injunctive relief.

Our team has walked this road before and knows the terrain.

Notable Cases

  • North American Title V. Liberty Title, et al. – Obtained defense verdict for a title company founder/executive after a 12-week jury trial. The plaintiff claimed that the hiring of dozens of its employees had been caused by breaches of fiduciary duty by its officers and executives and resulted in a massive misappropriation of its trade secrets. The plaintiff sought damages in excess of $20,000,000.
  • Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics v. Capstone – Assisted with the successful defense of a start-up orthopedic company against trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition claims brought by a large national company.
  • Fafco v. Energy Laboratories, et al. – Obtained injunction in Federal District Court against a former employee and his new employer, enjoining and prohibiting the use of his trade secret information.
  • Comerica Bank v.Commercial Capital Bank, et al. – Defended 21 former employees accused of misappropriation of trade secrets, conspiracy, and unfair competition. Promptly obtained injunctive relief under counterclaims, and obtained supersedeas relief from the appellate court modifying the injunctive relief ordered by the trial court.
  • Gateway C.C. v. O’Leary – Obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of a charter school against four former employees who were attempting to start up a competing charter school. Later obtained a jury verdict against the competing charter school for compensatory and punitive damages.
  • IonWays, LLC v. Phinneys – Assisted with obtaining a preliminary injunction in Nevada against former distributors of a multi-level marketing company after a two-day “mini-trial.”

In addition to the above cases, Weintraub Tobin has experience in the following trade secret cases:

  • Served as lead counsel for a design company that was sued for misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information. Plaintiff requested more than $2 million in damages. After a two-week trial, the jury awarded just $47,000 in damages.
  • Obtained dismissal of a lawsuit against former employee of the plaintiff’s company in a trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition action involving Fortune 100 companies. Dismissal was secured based on favorable evidentiary rulings during a two-month jury trial.
  • Served as lead counsel for the world’s largest food manufacturing company which was sued in state court in Texas for trade secret misappropriation, interference with contract, and related claims. Plaintiff requested more than $330 million in damages. After more than two weeks of trial, the jury awarded approximately $1 million, well below the pre-trial settlement demands.


Our attorneys also have the experience and know-how to counsel companies in hiring key employees of competitors, handling the departures of key employees, and developing policies and practices.

Upcoming Seminar: Pregnancy Leave, Accommodation & Discrimination

Don’t Wait for the Stork To Teach You What It All Means Summary of ProgramJoin the Employment Law Group of Weintraub Tobin for an informative and up-to-date discussion about the rights and obligations of pregnantemployees. Program Highlights Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) What is it? Which employers are covered? When is…

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Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Human Resource Law: What You Need To Know Now

Program Description Weintraub attorney Charles L. Post will speak on the following topics: “Is Your Employee Handbook Up to Date? Essential Components and Sample Policies for Today’s Workplace”Wage and Benefit Issues Stay up to date on the latest legislative changes and court decisions impacting your human resource practices! This essential…

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SAPCC Executive Series IV: 12 Most Common Mistakes Small Employers Will Make

Download: Exec Series – August 2013.pdf The Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce and Weintraub Tobin will host “Executive Series IV: 12 Most Common Mistakes Small Employers Make” on Wednesday, August 7th. Labor and employment attorney Duyen T. Nguyen will explain how you can prevent against these common business mistakes:…

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Summer Seminar Series for Restaurants

Download: New Final.pdf Leavitt Group and Weintraub Tobin will host a “Summer Seminar Series for Restaurants” where we will examine the issues facing employers in the restaurant industry, health care reform and group captive alternatives. Whether it’s employer mandates, wage and hour class litigation or administrative actions, restaurant management has…

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Upcoming CEAC Seminar: Labor Law, Hiring and Firing, and Conflict Management

Download: labor law hiring and firing and conflict management 6-21-13__Final.pdf The Yuba Sutter Colusa Employer Advisory Council in partnership with the Employment Development Department will present the seminar, “Labor Law, Hiring and Firing, and Conflict Management,” on Friday, June 21st from 8 a.m. to noon at Peachtree Golf & Country…

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L&E Webinar: OSHA Compliance: A Healthy and Safe Work Environment

Download: Flyer – OSHA Compliance. A Healthy and Safe Work Environment (1643744).PDF Summary of Program Federal and state OSHA laws protect California workers from unsafe working conditions. However, the federal and state statutes and regulations are complex and can be difficult to understand. This shortwebinar is designed to remove some…

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14 Weintraub Tobin Attorneys Named to Best of the Bar 2019

SACRAMENTO, California  – Weintraub Tobin congratulates its 14 attorneys who have been included in Sacramento Business Journal’s Best of the Bar 2019. Attorneys selected to the 2019 Best of the Bar list include Gary L. Bradus, Kay U. Brooks ,Dale C. Campbell,  Christopher Chediak, Janet Z. Chediak, Jim Clarke,Edward J.…

Eight Weintraub Tobin Attorneys Named to Best Lawyers In America© 2015

SACRAMENTO, California – August 25, 2014 – Today, Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation (Weintraub Tobin) congratulates its eight partners who have been included in The Best Lawyers of America© 2015. Chris Chediak, Sacramento, Corporate LawMike A. Kvarme, Sacramento, Real Estate LawDale Campbell, Sacramento, Commercial LitigationLouis Gonzalez, Jr., Sacramento, Litigation…

Weintraub Tobin and Waldron & Bragg Merge

Download: WTWB Merger Press Release FINAL.pdf Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation and Waldron & Bragg, a professional corporation, have jointly announced the merger of their business law and litigation firms. The combined firm will be named Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin and have offices in Sacramento, Calif., San…

Weintraub Tobin Raises Money for American Heart Association

For a third year in a row, Weintraub Tobin is working to raise funds for cardiovascular diseases and stroke by partaking in the American Heart Association Heart Walk on Saturday, September 21 at William Land Park. Our attorneys and staff work hard during the summer months to gear up for…

Trademark Assignability Laid Bare

Crazy Horse was a legendary Native American chief of the Oglala Lakota tribe who lived during the second half of the 1800s.  Unfortunately today, his name may be more familiar as a brand for various products, such as motorcycle gear, whiskey, rifles and strip clubs.  In Russell Road Food &…

Two Things You Can Do To Reduce the Likelihood That Your Company Will Be Found Liable For Conspiring Or Aiding And Abetting In An Employee’s Breach of Duty To A Former Employer

When companies sue their former employees for theft they often claim that the former employee’s new employer has conspired with the former employee to misappropriate trade secrets, or that that new employer has aided and abetted the former employee’s breach of duty he/she owed to his/her former employer. Like Woodward…

California Court Confirms No Absolute Public Policy Against Non-Competes Entered into by Partners

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Hidden Pitfalls of Old Non-Compete Provisions

Companies and employers around the country seek to protect their intellectual property by, among other things, using non-compete provisions in employment agreements. Generally, these provisions are intended to prevent an employee from soliciting or doing business with a former employer’s customer/clients over a set period of time and/or in regard…

Hey, that’s my beer! I think…

In the bustling craft brew economy brewers are faced with new issues every day. One that recently came to my attention arises when the craft brewery’s brewmaster or head brewer decides to either start his own craft brewery, or go to work for another brewery. While this may not initially…