In a business environment defined by ever increasing competition and technological evolution, some of the world’s largest, most sophisticated companies – ranging from traditional “brick and mortar” companies to technology leaders in communications, personalized medicine and Internet commerce – are repeatedly turning to Weil to defend and protect their vital trade secrets and business practices.
We utilize our global footprint to partner with clients on complex trade secrets issues regardless of the nature of the transaction, venue for the litigation, or headquarters of the client. Importantly, we have an established presence in the traditional “hotbeds” where trade secrets and related IP and employment issues are frequently litigated, including California, New York, and Texas. This presence allows us to efficiently handle the most complex, multi-jurisdictional disputes.
Although our experience handling significant trade secrets disputes in the courtroom is world-class, our experience conducting internal investigations and pre-litigation counseling to top-tier companies is just as vital for our clients. We are regularly retained to provide this pre-dispute counseling with respect to novel or other “first-of-kind” issues that often need to be addressed completely, discreetly and expeditiously, whether working for a potential claimant or potential defendant. We regularly advise, counsel, and train clients with respect to issues relating to non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements and trade secret protection.
Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is a leading global retailer that operates the iconic retail banners Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor in the U.S., as well as Hudson’s Bay in Canada, among other stores. HBC first hired Weil earlier in 2015 to assist with the highly publicized termination of the CEO of Saks. Weil’s work on that matter led HBC to retain Weil again in the summer of 2015 when HBC was hiring a new Chief Information Officer, Janet Schalk, who had a non-compete agreement with her prior employer, Kohl’s Department Stores. Weil counseled HBC with respect to the hiring of Ms. Schalk, noting that her non-compete agreement with Kohl’s was overbroad and likely unenforceable. When Kohl’s filed a complaint against Ms. Schalk in Wisconsin state court seeking to enforce the non-compete, Weil then led the litigation defense. In this action, Kohl’s moved for a temporary injunction to block Ms. Schalk from commencing employment with HBC, but after a two-day evidentiary hearing, the judge denied Kohl’s motion based on his finding that Kohl’s failed to show a reasonable probability of success on the merits. Specifically, the judge found that Kohl’s failed to demonstrate that the restriction on Ms. Schalk was reasonably necessary for the protection of Kohl’s business interests. Ms. Schalk, following the court’s denial of Kohl’s motion, has commenced employment as the new CIO of HBC. The plaintiff subsequently dropped the case entirely.
Weil is representing Perella Weinberg Partners (PWP), one of the most prestigious financial services boutiques on Wall Street, in litigation against three former partners and one former managing director in PWP’s Financial Restructuring Group. PWP terminated the former partners’ and managing director’s tenure for Cause after discovering that they had been conspiring to lift out PWP’s Restructuring Group to a new competing firm they were secretly forming, in breach of their contractual non-solicitation obligations and fiduciary duties to PWP. As a result of the terminations for Cause, the partners forfeited all of their PWP equity and deferred compensation, which they claim is worth in excess of $80 million. PWP filed suit against the former partners and managing director in New York State Supreme Court, seeking a declaration that the contractual non-solicitation covenants to which they were subject were valid and enforceable and PWP properly terminated them for Cause for violating those covenants, and asserting a variety of other claims. The defendant former employees filed counterclaims against PWP and certain PWP partners, seeking a declaration that the non-solicitation covenants in defendants’ partnership or employment agreements were void and defendants’ terminations for Cause were invalid. In November 2015, the defendants moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of PWP’s liability for approximately $11 million in deferred compensation that they forfeited upon their terminations for Cause, while PWP moved to dismiss certain of defendants’ counterclaims. In July 2016, the court denied defendants’ summary judgment motion, and granted, in part, PWP’s motion to dismiss. As ordered by the court, Defendants filed amended counterclaims on August 18, 2016. This has been a high-profile termination for cause that has received extensive media coverage.
Separately, we also brought a successful action in Minnesota state court against one of UHG’s former high-level employees who violated his post-employment restrictive obligations and began work for a competitor in a comparable position, seeking, among other relief, a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. After UHG successfully obtained a temporary restraining order, it resolved the matter with the former UHG employee on highly favorable terms.
Weil represents WoodSpring Hotels, an extended stay hotel company, in connection with litigation commenced in Kansas by industry competitor Extended Stay America hotels (ESA) against WoodSpring, WoodSpring’s former Vice President of Sales, and a former IT consultant of both WoodSpring and ESA. ESA brought eleven claims against the defendants, alleging a breath-taking misappropriation and use of ESA’s confidential information and trade secrets, which it claimed occurred with the knowledge and acquiescence of certain members of WoodSpring management.
Weil aggressively and proactively developed a strategy to immediately turn over all materials, and focused our efforts on developing a model that showed the potential impact on ESA to be far more limited than they had suggested. Weil successfully negotiated ESA’s withdrawal of its motions for expedited discovery and preliminary injunction at the outset of the case, allowing the parties to avoid costly and rigorous discovery. After a successful mediation, the parties reached a quick settlement despite the challenging and complex set of facts. A consent judgment and permanent injunction were entered by the court in July 2017.
Weil’s Restrictive Covenant and Trade Secrets practice is consistently recognized as 'excellent – superior to the competition.'”
Clients note that the ELPG attorneys are “very, very smart people [who] seamlessly pull together as a group."