In Florida and across the United States, businesses that specialize in innovation should be aware of the possibility that employees might ignore agreements when they choose to depart. It is especially problematic when a former employee who had a significant role in the creation of a product starts a business of his or her own in the same category. One recent case involving Apple has led to business litigation.
A man who was a chief processor architect is being sued. The man brought two former executives at Apple with him in the new venture. Apple asserts that the man is violating his agreement with them. Mainly, it says that he hid his intentions while playing a prominent role in developing Apple’s new chips.
In addition, Apple says that the man used information he accrued while working for the company and told others of his intention for Apple to eventually acquire his company. Apple says he poached its employees. The company’s claim of breach of duty of loyalty must be clarified by the courts, but there were recent cases where settlements were paid due to agreements not to recruit employees from other tech companies.
The former employee counters that the contract cannot be enforced based on the laws in California. Non-compete clauses are illegal in the state. He says the messages he sent to another employee at Apple were acquired illegally and the state privacy laws might have been broken. The laws regarding employees leaving a company to start another business and violating agreements are complex. For companies that believe an employee engaged in unfair competition, violated intellectual property laws or has committed outright theft, a legal filing is often the only recourse. A law firm experienced in business litigation may be able to help.