Non-Compete Battles: IBM versus Dell
In a recent non-compete decision, Federal District Court Judge Steven Robinson denied an injunction sought by IBM to keep a former vice-president, Steven Johnson, from going to work for Dell. The court rejected IBM’s contention, that Johnson had access to trade secrets:
The court believes . . . that IBM has overstated its case. Mr. Johnson does not have the sort of information that is considered quintessential trade secret information ‑‑ detailed technical know-how, formulae, designs, or procedures.
Employers attempting to enforce non-competes in Texas have to ensure that what they are claiming as trade secrets are trade secrets. With recent Texas Supreme Court opinions in favor of the employer, an employees’ chief defense to non-compete enforcement will be to attack whether there is actually a trade secret that gives rise to a non-compete.