California law favors the right to work and healthy competition amongst businesses. As such, businesses, for the most part, may not prevent departing employees from working for a competitor or starting a competing business. California law does, however, allow businesses to prevent former employees from competing unfairly by disclosing or using the businesses “trade secrets.” A “trade secret” is defined as information that (1) derives independent economic value from not being generally known to the public or competitors and (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy. Depending on the circumstances, a business’s “trade secrets” could include business plans, customer lists, or a particular method, formula, program or procedure. Businesses may pursue lawsuits against former employees and other companies for misappropriating trade secrets.
If you are a business or employee in need of help with a trade secret dispute, please call us to discuss your situation at (626) 808-HELP (4357).