The Benefit of Confidentiality AgreementsBy Nina Kaufman, Esq.
For anyone who ever doubted the benefit of confidentiality agreements, the case of Chris Botticella, former Thomas’ English Muffin executive should put the doubts to rest.
As recently reported in the New York Times, Botticella was one of a small handful of people who knew the entire “nook and cranny” secret. He signed a confidentiality agreement with the company. Within a year, he gave two weeks’ notice (ostensibly, to retire), but then rumors circulated that he was jumping ship to go to a competitor, Hostess Bakeries. It was also claimed that, after Botticella confirmed he was going to work for Hostess, he immediately started downloading Thomas’ confidential company information.
Lawyers for Thomas’ parent company, Grupo Bimbo, acted quickly to prevent him from making the move. Because the case is tied up in court . . . and presumably because they don’t want to get dragged into the lawsuit, Hostess has said it is no longer holding the job for Mr. Botticella.
For the fuller story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/business/07muffin.html
It’s a good reminder to companies of all sizes of the value of protecting their intellectual property. Too easily, they let employees and others have access to their proprietary information, only to find out they may have trained their next competitor. A confidentiality agreement that prevents any misuse of their property can go a long way to keeping their business intact.