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Moore v. Commercial Aircraft Interiors, LLC

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 05-29-2012
Case #: 66279-1-I
Becker, Dwyer, Ellington
Full Text Opinion: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=662791MAJ

Trade Secrets: Where there is no suspicion of disclosure of trade secrets, an employer may still prohibit employment with a competitor for fear of unconscious disclosure of trade secrets.

Opinion (Becker): Moore was hired as vice president of sales by Commercial Aircraft Interiors (CAI) in 2004, during his employment he was required to sign two non-disclosure agreements. In 2008, Moore was hired as an independent consultant by CAI and Volant, a competitor, to negotiate Volant’s acquisition of CAI; Moore was prohibited from divulging trade secrets by both companies. The acquisition fell through and in 2009 Moore was laid off by CAI. Moore solicited Volant for employment. When Volant notified CAI, they objected explaining that Moore’s employment would necessarily lead to a disclosure of trade secrets. Volant did not hire Moore, and Moore then filed suit against CAI. The lower court granted summary judgment for CAI, ruling that CAI had not acted in bad faith and that it had a legally protected interest in maintaining its trade secrets from disclosure. The Court held that summary judgment was proper because CAI had a good faith belief that Moore’s employment at Volant posed a threat to its trade secrets. CAI had trade secrets it had not shared with Volant which Moore knew or had knowledge of; further, despite CAI not having non-compete covenants with Moore, it did have non-disclosure agreements so therefore could protect its interests. Moore argued that because there was no evidence of dishonesty or misconduct on his part, the threats made by CAI were not in good faith. The Court found that where there is no suspicion of disclosure, a former employee may still unconsciously disclose trade secrets. Therefore, the Court AFFIRMED the motion for summary judgment for CAI.