Protect Your Trade Secrets and Intellectual Property
In the fast-paced digital age, information flows freely. Everyone carries smart phones with the capability to record every word and action. Business competition is fierce, and protecting intellectual property and protecting business trade secrets has never been more important.
Plakas Mannos offers experienced commercial litigation and intellectual property attorneys. We handle commercial cases in the Ohio State Court, the Ohio Federal Court and in courts across the country.
These cases include, but not limited to misappropriation of trade secret cases, patent and copyright infringement cases, breach of non-competition/non-compete agreement cases, unfair competition cases, tortious interference cases and breach of contract cases.
This blog is the first in a series regarding our intellectual property and trade secrets practice. We’ll explore particularly noteworthy cases where Plakas Mannos attorneys Lee Plakas, Maria Klutinoty Edwards and Collin Wise were able to secure a $7 million settlement on behalf of our client.
The Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Case
Plakas Mannos is committed to protecting intellectual property. We demonstrated this in a commercial litigation case that resulted in a significant seven-figure settlement on behalf of our client. Our team uncovered proof of a competitor’s scheme to steal our client’s intellectual property and trade secrets. The competitor intended to gain inroads with their customers and use this unfair advantage to compete in the same industry.
Based upon this conduct, Plakas Mannos filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client, an international company with significant local Stark County operations. The lawsuit, which was against a growing, out-of-state competitor, was based on claims of tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with business relationships, misappropriation of trade secrets, unjust enrichment, breach of contract and breach of duty of good faith and loyalty.
This victory highlights the complexities of modern business disputes. It also strongly underscores the critical role of early representation and securing digital evidence of unfair competition. In today’s environment, where trade secrets and intellectual property are copied, transferred or destroyed with the click of a button, you need access to experienced IP lawyers.
The Unraveling of Deception
At the heart of this case was a former employee of our client who went to work for a competitor. With a misguided desire to impress his new employer, this person enticed a former coworker to covertly email and transmit pricing lists, customer lists and job lists to his new employer. This scheme was uncovered by our team through multiple meetings with witnesses who received the information. We then conducted a digital forensic investigation that ultimately exposed the deceptive actions. This showed not only the former employee’s conduct but also that the information was welcomed by his new employer at the highest levels of management.
Digital Forensics Unveils the Truth
In an era where information is stored in cloud environments, communication spans various digital platforms and everyone has multiple electronic devices that can record and store sensitive information, the importance of digital forensics cannot be overstated.
Our commercial litigation attorneys utilized experts and advanced forensic techniques to obtain cell phone and computer downloads. This revealed a methodical series of transfers of sensitive information to the competitor, which directly affected our client’s business. These digital breadcrumbs not only substantiated our client's claims but also formed the backbone of our case, providing irrefutable proof of the employee's misconduct and the harm it caused.
The Need to Act Quickly When Misappropriation or Corporate Espionage are Suspected
In this case, our client used good instincts and business sense in hiring our team early and investing in our expedient investigation into the suspected wrongful conduct. Because Plakas Mannos was engaged and took action quickly, we were able to obtain a plethora of misappropriated information and unfair business practices. You must act quickly when you suspect misappropriation or corporate espionage, as many bad actors will try to delete information, hide information and create confusing and misleading trails of information to combat detection. Also, by acting quickly, further misappropriation or sharing of misappropriation can be prevented. This sometimes requires requests for preliminary injunctions or temporary restraining orders.
When You Need IP Lawyers, Give Us a Call
In the digital age, the legal landscape is evolving, and so must the strategies employed by business owners and officers and law firms. Our success in securing a $7 million settlement is a testament to our commitment to staying ahead of the curve. Technology continues to play an ever-expanding role in business. Quickly and correctly navigating the complexities of digital evidence is crucial for ensuring justice prevails.
If you believe your business has been subject to similar theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, contact Plakas Mannos. We stand ready to guide you through the intricacies of commercial litigation, armed with the expertise needed to best position you to secure a favorable outcome and justice.
About the Authors
Maria Klutinoty Edwards and Collin Wise are Partners at Plakas Mannos and members of Plakas Mannos’ Commercial Litigation Team. Each successfully prosecuted and defended claims relating to intellectual property and trade secret theft.
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