is a partner and business litigator in the Atlanta office of Burr & Forman LLP. His practice largely focuses on litigating and arbitrating non-compete and trade secret disputes, counseling employers and executives on unfair competition issues, and drafting employment and severance agreements. Chip is a frequent commentator on non-compete and trade secret issues, having been featured in publications including the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Attorney at Law, and Business to Business, and he started his firm’s unfair competition blog (noncompetetradesecretslaw.com), to which he is a contributor.
Trade secret theft is often an inside job. Employees who know they’re about to leave for a competitor or start their own competing business will sometimes try and get an unfair head start by taking their employer’s confidential information—customer lists, strategic plans, etc.—as they head out the door. A necessary tool for preventing the misappropriation and use of a company’s valuable trade secrets is a well-crafted employee restrictive covenant agreement. Having employees under at least some form of such an agreement is important for two reasons. First, both state and federal trade secret statutes require employers to take reasonable steps to protect the secrecy of information sought to be protected under those statutes. Second, restrictive covenant agreements provide employers contractual remedies, over and above the statutory trade secret protections, that can be used to prevent theft and use of a company’s confidential information.