Russell Beck and Hannah Joseph in the Boston Bar Journal on Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine

Russell Beck and Hannah Joseph’s article about the doctrine of inevitable disclosure was recently published by the Boston Bar Journal.

Their article, titled “The Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine In Employment Litigation: Two Perspectives” explores the reasons for and against adopting the inevitable disclosure doctrine in Massachusetts. The article is written in a point / counterpoint format, with Russell and Hannah taking the side that the inevitable disclosure doctrine should be adopted in Massachusetts, and Josh Davis and Andrew O’Connor of Goulston & Storrs in Boston writing for the view that the doctrine should not be adopted.

By way of background, as described in the article’s introduction, the inevitable disclosure doctrine can be summarized as follows:

Where an employee’s work for a new employer substantially overlaps with work for a former employer, based on the same role, industry, and geographic region, a court may conclude that the employee would likely use confidential information to the former employer’s detriment. The doctrine allows the court to enjoin a former employee from working at a competitor of the employer, even if the former employee never entered into a non-competition agreement, if the court finds that such employment would inevitably lead to a disclosure of the trade secret.

In the article, Russell and Hannah provide in-depth analysis of the inevitable disclosure doctrine (IDD), and explain how it ties into other methods of protecting trade secrets:

Prior to October 1, 2018, no Massachusetts appellate court had embraced or rejected the IDD. However, when Massachusetts enacted the Massachusetts Uniform Trade Secrets Act, G.L. c. 93, §§ 42–42G (“MUTSA”) in 2018, it “most likely” adopted the IDD.

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It is well-settled that an employee may not go from one company to another and use the former company’s trade secrets for the benefit of new company. Accordingly, the IDD “is really just a common sense response to a common dilemma: an employee who leaves to join a competitor can be tempted to gain an unfair head start by drawing upon proprietary information belonging to a past employer, and once the secret is disclosed, it may be forever lost.” While we know that employees do not come to their jobs with a “tabula rasa” (a clean slate), we also do not allow them to bring and use others’ trade secrets

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The IDD appropriately balances the interests in protecting companies’ trade secrets against employees’ job mobility. Absent employee misconduct, mobility will rarely be impacted.

The Boston Bar Journal is a peer-reviewed, online publication of the Boston Bar Association. It presents timely information, analysis, and opinions to more than 10,000 lawyers in nearly every practice area. The Boston Bar Journal is governed by a volunteer Board of Editors dedicated to publishing outstanding articles that reflect their authors’ independent thought.

For up-to-the-minute analysis of legal issues concerning noncompete agreements in Massachusetts and across the United States, read Russell Beck’s blog, Fair Competition Law.

eck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.

The Wall Street Journal featured Beck Reed Riden LLP’s noncompete agreement experience. In 2016, the White House issued a report entitled, “Non-Compete Agreements: Analysis of the Usage, Potential Issues, and State Responses,” relying in part on Beck Reed Riden LLP’s research and analysis, including its 50 State Noncompete Survey.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized, and includes:

  • Over thirty working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
  • Assisting the Obama White House as part of a small working group to develop President Obama’s Noncompete Call to Action
  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (6th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2021), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete matters
  • Authoring the book Trade Secrets Law for the Massachusetts Practitioner (1st ed. MCLE 2019), covering trade secrets nationally, with a focus on Massachusetts law
  • Drafting and advising on legislation for the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
  • Founding and administering the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
  • Establishing and administering the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,660 and 870 members, respectively, around the world
  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide, which stated that Russell Beck is “an expert in the field of trade secret and restrictive covenant law,” and is also noted for his “ability to adjust and come up with successful solutions.” Chambers noted that Russell “basically wrote the new Massachusetts statute on noncompetes” and that “he’s an expert in employee mobility and nonrestrictive covenants.”

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Russell Beck Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

Russell BeckThe February 11, 2016, issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly features Russell Beck in an article titled “In-house lawyer’s advice to competitor not barred.”

The article covers a decision by the Business Litigation Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court that an in-house lawyer could not be barred from offering advice to his new employer without evidence that the advice would breach his ethical duty to his former employer. The decision was entered in the case titled The Gillette Company v. Craig Provost, et al.Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

In the article, Russell Beck is quoted as follows:

Russell Beck, a Boston lawyer who focuses on trade secrets and noncompete litigation, said Sanders’ ruling is one of the rare instances in which a judge delved into the circumstances under which an in-house counsel can advise a former employer’s competitor.

“It provides a little additional clarity in an area in which there have been very few cases,” Beck said.

Beck said it was significant that Sanders rejected Gillette’s inevitable disclosure argument that the in-house lawyer could not help but rely on Gillette’s confidential information when advising ShaveLogic. There is no Massachusetts appellate court ruling that affirmatively adopts or rejects the inevitable disclosure doctrine as a substitute for a noncompete agreement, and trial courts have been wrestling with the issue, according to Beck.

“As in most of the cases, the court found there would not have been a need to restrict the employee — in this case the lawyer,” Beck said.

The passage of time was another major factor in Sanders’ analysis, Beck said. The defendant left Gillette in 2006 and began working for ShaveLogic six years later.

“That’s an important thing for people to remember when considering the risk imposed by a lawyer, or any employee moving from one company to another,” he said.

The article is by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s reporter, Sheri Qualters.

Beck Reed Riden LLPBLF 2014_Silver_Generalis among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience. The Wall Street Journal featured Beck Reed Riden LLP’s noncompete agreement experience.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized; it includes:

  • Over sixteen years of working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters

  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (5th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2015), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete cases

  • Drafting and advising on legislation for the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law

  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law

  • Founding and administrating the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law

  • Establishing and administrating the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 750 members around the world

  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2014 Chambers USA Guide, which explained that “Russell Beck of Beck Reed Riden LLP specializes in noncompete litigation and is a trade secrets expert. He comes highly recommended by his peers for his nationwide practice in this niche. ‘He’s fantastic,’ sources say.”

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.