A while back, it was reported that Microsoft sued Matt Miszewski, the former General Manager of one of its sales teams, as well as his new employer, Salesforce.com, who happens to also be one of Microsoft's direct competitors, to enforce Miszewski's non-compete agreement, and bar him from working for a direct competitor - particularly as their VP of the Global Sector, for one year.

From the allegations set forth in the article - and notwithstanding that this case was brought in Seattle (Microsoft's home turf) - this case sounds like the paradigm of a case where a New York court would enforce the non-compete.

Moreover, once you see the facts marshalled by Microsoft, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Court granted Microsoft's application for a restraining order (or "TRO"), banning Miszewski from taking the job at Salesforce.

When a New York Court Will Likely Enforce a Non-Compete Agreement - and Even Grant a TRO

Here are some of the sordid details:

  • Immediately prior to leaving Microsoft, Miszewski downloaded roughly 25,000 pages of business files and 600 MB of data to his personal laptop, much of which included sensitive, confidential and proprietary information;
  • In the month of his departure, Miszewski helped author a memorandum setting forth Microsoft's business strategy for the Public Sector for the coming year of 2011. This material was compiled well after his agreement to assume a new position as Salesforce's VP of Global Sales was, for all intents and purposes, a "done deal"; and,
  • While working for Microsoft, his job duties specifically entailed working with and modifying their "Worldwide Public Sector Government Cloud Playbook," which containing Microsoft's confidential and proprietary sales strategy for marketing Microsoft's cloud computing offerings. Importantly, the Playbook contained vital information regarding Microsoft's evaluation of its competitors in this market - including Salesforce.com.

The Takeaway

This is precisely the type of trade secret material that New York's courts will look to protect, and the type of non-compete agreement that the New York courts will likely uphold, because to do otherwise would all but encourage trade secret theft and unfair competition.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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