On October 12, 2023, the Wisconsin legislature introduced Assembly Bill 481, which proposes the ban of employee non-compete agreements in the Badger State. Currently, employee non-compete agreements in Wisconsin are allowed if limited to a specified territory, a specified time, and only if the “restrictions imposed are reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer or principal.” Wis. Stat.Continue Reading Wisconsin Legislature Proposes Joining Other States in Ban of Non-Compete Agreements
The United States Attorneys’ Offices in Wisconsin criminally prosecuted two trade secret theft cases last week. In the Eastern District of Wisconsin (United States of America v. Tan Liu), the United States charged a former employee, Tan Liu, with 12 counts of stealing trade secrets from his former employer, Rockwell Automation, Inc. According to the government, in the last few weeks of his Rockwell employment, and in anticipation of leaving Rockwell for a new employer, Liu downloaded 2,500 files that contained the proprietary software and source code Rockwell uses to operate various systems and controllers.
Continue Reading Wisconsin U.S. Attorneys Actively Prosecuting Trade Secret Theft—With Mixed Results
A recent decision from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant accused of conspiring to misappropriate its competitor’s trade secrets. By a 4-3 decision in North Highland Inc. v. Jefferson Machine & Tool Inc., 2017 WI 75 (July 6, 2017), the Court found that plaintiff North Highland, Inc. (“North Highland”) had failed to present sufficient evidence of misappropriation or conspiracy to proceed beyond the summary judgment stage, prompting a notably sharp exchange with dissenting Chief Justice Patience D. Roggensack and a second dissent by two other justices.
Highland is a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of industrial products. One of the companies it distributed its products to was Bay Plastics, Inc., owned by Frederick Wells. Prior to 2011, Wells decided to form a separate company to manufacture the products which Bay Plastics sold, including some of the products which it purchased from North Highland. Wells formed Jefferson Machine & Tool Inc. (“Jefferson Machine”) along with Dwain Trewyn—Wells owned 75% of Jefferson Machine and Trewyn owned the remaining 25%. At the time of Jefferson Machine’s formation, Trewyn was employed by North Highland in sales. Trewyn did not have a non-competition agreement with North Highland, but also did not inform North Highland that he would also be working at Jefferson Machine.
Continue Reading Wisconsin High Court Affirms High Summary Judgment Bar to Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims
Several ex-employees now may compete with their former employer, and may solicit its employees and customers, after a federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington held that the restrictive provisions in their employment agreements are unenforceable.
The agreements, drafted by the former employer, contained a choice-of-law provision which the former employer tried unsuccessfully to invalidate. The court also held …
Continue Reading Non-Compete And Non-Solicitation Covenants Contained In Bovine Artificial Insemination Employment Agreements Held Unenforceable
The case of Illumination Management Solutions, Inc. v. Ruud pending in the Eastern District of Wisconsin exemplifies the continuing lack of certainty on the scope of California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”) preemption when the claims potentially subject to preemption concern information that itself may not qualify as a trade secret but is nevertheless confidential or proprietary.
Continue Reading Wisconsin Federal Court Finds That Common Law Claims Are Preempted by the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act
On March 29, 2012, the Seventh Circuit upheld summary judgment in favor of a defendant on plaintiff’s claims for trade secrets misappropriation and unjust enrichment, holding that plaintiff failed to take any measures, let alone reasonable measures, to protect its alleged trade secrets during joint marketing negotiations with defendant. Fail-Safe LLC v. A.O. Smith Corp., No. 11-1354 (7th Cir.
By Justin Beyer
Thompson Reuters (Healthcare) Inc. sued three former executive employees, all formerly working for Thompson Reuters in its pharmacy benefits management and consulting division of its healthcare services arm, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Monday and immediately filed a motion for partial summary judgment against the former executives for a…
Continue Reading Former Pharmacy Benefit Management Executives Sued For Alleged Violations Of Customer Non-Solicitation Agreements In Wisconsin Federal Court
In D.L. Anderson’s Lakeside Leisure Co. v. Anderson, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently upheld an award of damages for violation of a non-compete provision in a sale of business agreement. The facts of situation are as follows:
D.L. Anderson built D.L. Anderson Co., a business offering a range of marine services and products, such as shore landscaping and manufacturing and…