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Following Trade Secrets Litigation

IBM Tries For A Second Bite at the Apple (or Dell in this case)

Back in June I posted on IBM’s lawsuit against it’s former M&A chief, David Johnson, here. IBM sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Johnson from performing his duties at Dell. The Judge denied the preliminary injunction on June 26, 2009, saying that it would unfairly hurt Johnson’s career.

IBM appealed the ruling. However, not satisfied, IBM also sought to revive its motion for preliminary injunction based on the discovery of new evidence against Johnson. The New Brunswick Business Journal is now reporting that U.S. District Judge Steven Robinson denied IBM again. Robinson wrote, “The court shall not allow IBM to litigate this matter through piecemeal, seriatim motions requesting the same relief.” According to Robinson, such a method “is vexatious and does a great disservice to the interests of Mr. Johnson and of the court.”

The litigation appears to center around the validity of a 2005 agreement, specifically, whether it is valid even though it wasn’t properly signed by Johnson and IBM never followed through on threats to take away his equity in the company if he didn’t re-sign it. According to Johnson, he deliberately signed the agreement in the wrong place.

Take away message: Make sure your employees sign any agreements in the correct place. There really is no reason for an employee not to do so, unless he plans on creating wiggle room for himself as Mr. Johnson has done.

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August 7, 2009 Posted by | confidentiality agreement, Intellectual Property, misappropriation, non-compete agreement, trade secret theft, Trade Secrets | , , , | 1 Comment