Retaining talented employees, protecting customer relationships, and securing sensitive information are all critical to a company’s business operations. Companies must also often hire employees from competing organizations to grow.
Berman Fink Van Horn is widely considered a go-to firm for helping companies and individuals navigate the thicket of issues that arise when an employee is hired from a competitor or leaves a company to join a competitor. We help companies of all sizes protect themselves from unfair competition, and we defend companies and individuals who are accused of engaging in unfair competition.
The breadth of our experience counseling clients and handling litigation in noncompete and trade secrets matters spans nearly every industry, including healthcare, insurance brokerage, accounting, wealth management, staffing, technology, software, biotech, real estate, transportation, manufacturing, medical devices, and many others.
Protecting your company from unfair competition
If your company has valuable customer relationships or information that is competitively sensitive, our noncompete/trade secrets group can help you protect your organization from unfair competition.
We draft and implement agreements containing noncompetes, nonsolicits, nonrecruits, and nondisclosure provisions for companies of all sizes and across all industries. We also prepare policies and help companies develop measures to prevent employees and others from taking company property or files. These steps help companies protect themselves from unfair competition by departing employees or other rogue actors.
Taking quick action to stop ongoing harm from departing employees
Sometimes all the right agreements and policies are not enough to deter a departing employee or bad actor from doing something improper. Perhaps an executive has resigned and commenced employment at a direct competitor in violation of a noncompete. Or, perhaps your top salesperson left and began immediately soliciting their former customers or co-workers in breach of nonsolicitation provisions. Or worse, you discover that an employee took a customer list or a spreadsheet containing proprietary formulas in the days leading up to their departure.
When your organization discovers that departing employees are violating their legal obligations, our team stands ready to step in and quickly stop that ongoing harm, including by pursuing injunctive relief in court.
Counseling employees and companies to avoid litigation
The lawyers at BFV regularly counsel companies that are hiring employees subject to noncompetes and other restrictive covenants. We provide prompt and practical guidance on how a company can hire and onboard such employees in a way that is legally compliant and mitigates the risk of a dispute. We also regularly counsel executives, managers and professionals who are considering leaving their current employer and need to understand their rights and obligations, as well as how to leave their employer the right way.
Defending high-stakes noncompete and trade secrets lawsuits
Even when a group of employees leaves the right way, the employer may still file a lawsuit against the employees and their new employer.
Berman Fink Van Horn skillfully defends companies as well as individuals who are accused of breaching restrictive covenants, violating federal and state trade secret statutes, or engaging in tortious interference, computer misconduct, or other unfair competition. We are adept at defending what are often fast-moving, high-stakes cases. We are often called upon to lead or coordinate litigation when the hiring of a team of employees from a competitor results in litigation in multiple states—both when we are defending against alleged violations and when we are seeking to enforce obligations.
The breadth of BFV’s noncompete/trade secrets experience
The disputes we handle often involve the following issues, claims, and statutes:
- Customer Non-Solicitation Provisions
- Employee Non-Recruitment and No-Hire Provisions
- Non-Disclosure/Confidential Information Agreements
- Trade Secrets (Georgia Trade Secrets Act, Uniform Trade Secrets Act and Defend Trade Secrets Act)
- Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions
- Tortious Interference with Business and Contractual Relations
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty and/or Duty of Loyalty
- Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices
- Business Defamation
- Computer Systems Protection Act violations
- Economic Espionage Act
- Electronic Communications Privacy Act
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claims
- Stored Communications Act
Trade Secret Disputes
Technology has made it easier for employees to take competitive information with them when they leave an organization and more challenging for companies to prevent trade secret theft. In addition to remedies available under state law, a significant federal law, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, is another tool that companies can use against employees who misappropriate information. Our attorneys leverage their depth of experience and cutting-edge knowledge of trade secret law to help clients obtain swift resolution of these disputes.
Why choose us?
When you entrust us with your business matter, you can rest assured our team will treat your company like it is our own. The attorneys handling your case will always keep you up to date, consistently communicating with you and collaborating on creative solutions. Our team is nimble, accessible and ready to act. And while our rates are competitive, our clients receive white glove service from a senior level attorney — every time.
Attorneys in this area
Jeffrey N. Berman
Lea C. Dearing
Benjamin I. Fink
Thomas E. Sowers
Neal F. Weinrich
Kenneth N. Winkler
Daniel H. Park
Katherine M. Silverman
Jeremy L. Kahn
Ashley M. Bowcott
Olivia B. Landrum
BFV Wins Dismissal of Claims Against Staffing Company
Berman Fink Van Horn attorneys obtained dismissal of a lawsuit against a large, national staffing company brought by the former employer of several employees hired by the staffing firm. The claims included tortious interference with the employees’ agreements with their former employer.Attorneys involved in this case: Benjamin I. Fink
Construction services EVP: “I wish every interaction … was as great as the one we had with [BFV]”
Client Testimonial (from e-mail sent to Ben Fink):
Hopefully we will cross paths … but until then I wanted to send this note. …I wish every interaction with an outside partner was as great as the one we had with you and your team. I will forever be thankful of your wise counsel and how thoughtful of our feelings everyone on your team was from the very start. This was a …new experience for us and I could not imagine going through it without your teams assistance.
Please let me know if you ever need a reference for a new possible client as I would be glad to assist in any way possible.
Managing Director/Executive Vice President, Construction ServicesAttorneys involved in this case: Benjamin I. Fink, Neal F. Weinrich
A commercial insurance services company
Employee benefits company VP: “I have been absolutely impressed with every facet of this process”
Client Testimonial (from e-mail sent to Neal Weinrich):
[We received] the news early this afternoon. I am absolutely thrilled at the result. Both of you (and your team) are THE BOMB! I promised Ben I would send a great note of commendation to [our] management team, and I am copying them on this note back to you. I have been absolutely impressed with every facet of this process, from my first meeting with you, the structure and process of defense, the detail and preparation your team provided for all of us, and finally the results that you delivered. The work both of you did was some of the finest legal work I have ever seen. I will be recommending the two of you for years to come!
While I am happy to have my week back (and I badly needed it for work purposes), I would have been more than happy to be at every day of the trial if needed to assist my colleagues and your team.
Great job guys. I hope I have the privilege of working with you in the future in some capacity.
All the best!
Vice President, an employee benefits companyAttorneys involved in this case: Benjamin I. Fink, Neal F. Weinrich
Court grants summary judgment in favor of BFV client on all counts
Berman Fink Van Horn attorneys Kenneth N. Winkler and Daniel H. Park successfully represented two individuals and a corporation in a lawsuit alleging trade secret theft and a myriad of other claims, including breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, breach of fiduciary duty, violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, attorney’s fees, costs and exemplary damages. After extensive discovery and motion practice, attorneys at Berman Fink Van Horn demonstrated successfully that the former employer could not show use or disclose any trade secrets or that it had a protectable trade secret. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the employees on all counts.Attorneys involved in this case: Daniel H. Park, Kenneth N. Winkler
Spray foam manufacturer avoids liability for hiring competitors’ employees
Our client, a manufacturer of spray polyurethane foam systems, received a letter from a competitor alleging that it was causing former employees of the competitor to violate their non-competes. We obtained a ruling that the non-competes were unenforceable. This ruling was affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals.Attorneys involved in this case: Neal F. Weinrich
Energy executive’s non-compete declared unenforceable
Berman Fink Van attorneys represented an energy management executive that was sued in Georgia for allegedly violating his non-compete agreement. The former employer was also seeking an order against his Colorado employer. In the end, the Georgia court ruled the executive’s non-compete unenforceable and prohibited the former employer from seeking to enforce the non-compete in the Colorado lawsuit.Attorneys involved in this case: Neal F. Weinrich