Marketing agency InnerWorkings, Inc. filed suit under the Illinois Trade Secrets Act against a former sales executive who left the company for one of its direct competitors, HALO Branded Solutions. InnerWorkings does not allege that the former sales executive, Brian Battaglia, absconded with or stole trade secrets when he left for HALO. Nevertheless, the company claims that Battaglia, due to his wealth of experience in selling marketing and promotional materials for InnerWorking’s customers, will inevitably use InnerWorkings’ confidential and private information in his new position at HALO, which would allegedly result in “immeasurable” harm to InnerWorkings. InnerWorkings is seeking an injunction from the Cook County Circuit Court to enjoin Battaglia from disclosing any of its trade secrets in his new position at HALO. The company is also seeking damages “for any actual misappropriation” that may have already occurred. According to InnerWorkings, Battaglia enjoyed access to “significant quantities” of proprietary information, including pricing information, client lists, prospective customer lists, and confidential terms of existing client relationships. To protect itself from an employee with Battaglia’s access to proprietary information using that information at a rival company, InnerWorkings made sure Battaglia agreed to noncompete, nonsolicit, and proprietary rights policies as part of the terms of his employment. InnerWorkings alleges that Battaglia is also in violation of those agreements. In regard to the agreements, Battalia responded that he “didn’t really read” them.
This case illustrates the importance of seeking relief at the right time. InnerWorkings feared that one of its top sales employees, who had full access to its trade secrets, could occupy the same position at a competitor. Rather than wait for Battaglia to use InnerWorkings’ trade secrets on behalf of its competitor (when the damage may have been done, but the evidence supporting relief would also be stronger), InnerWorkings sought an injunction to preempt the damage being done.