Trade secret misappropriation cases turn on details. Accordingly, it is always interesting to see the particular details which tilt a court’s decision one way or the other.

In Lincoln Chemical Corp. and Dole v. Dubois Chemicals, Inc. and Galaxy Associates, Inc., Judge Miller of the Northern District of Indiana was faced with a motion for a preliminary injunction in a case involving, among other things, an alleged misappropriation of trade secrets by a former employee, Edward Dole. According to Judge Miller’s decision, when Dole switched employers, he “retained on his personal computer considerable proprietary information” of his former employer. Dole stated that he “retained it simply because [his former employer] never asked for its return or destruction,” and this raised an issue of whether Dole’s continued possession of this information was sufficient to support a misappropriation claim.

On this question, Judge Miller noted that Dole’s employment agreement contained a clause requiring him “to turn over all confidential information (including trade secrets) to his employer when his employment ended.” Because he did not do so, irrespective of whether the former employer ever specifically asked for the information’s return or destruction, Judge Miller held that Dole “misappropriated the information because he possesses it through improper means.”

Judge Miller’s ruling on this issue illustrates that when drafting an employment agreement or assessing the viability of a misappropriation claim, contractual clauses requiring the return of all company property and confidential information at termination should be given serious consideration.

Back to Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility Blog

Search This Blog

Blog Editors


Related Services



Jump to Page


Sign up to receive an email notification when new Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility posts are published:

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.