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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

Q:
My former business partner stole intellectual property from our company. Can I sue him for breach of fiduciary duty in New York?

A:

New York breach of fiduciary duty claims are assessed based upon the facts of each individual case. Unfortunately, there is not always a black-and-white answer that clearly defines whether someone owes a fiduciary duty to his former partner or employer, or whether he breached that duty.

This type of incident recently played out in a lawsuit brought by the national company B2B CFO against former partner Kenneth Kaufman. In that case, Mr. Kaufman left B2B CFO and used intellectual property owned by his former employer at his new venture, CFOWise. While the lawsuit eventually was settled, Mr. Kaufman did admit to being guilty of the allegations.

In New York, the first hurdle that you will need to overcome to bring your claim successfully is to prove that your former business partner owed a fiduciary duty. The court may look at the following factors:

  • Did the relationship between the partners call for a greater level of trust than that which exists between two strangers conducting business together?
  • Did the former partner leave the business to go work for a competitor?
  • Did the former partner owe a duty of good faith and loyalty to the other partner or employer?
  • Did the former partner poach company property from the former employer, or did he merely begin laying the groundwork to start a new, competing business on his own personal time? 

Since these claims are so heavily tied to the particular facts of each individual case, it is essential that you seek guidance from an experienced professional. To learn more about protecting your rights following a breach of fiduciary duty and other New York business litigation matters, contact an experienced New York business litigation attorney today. Call our office at (888) 497-3410 for a consultation.