How Could You Forget those Delicious “Nooks and Crannies?”
Chris Botticella is one of the seven people on the planet who knows the secret to the one of the most closely guarded trade secrets today, Thomas’ English Muffin “nooks and crannies”. Unfortunately for Thomas’, Botticella decided to move on to greener pastures and join rival baked goods specialist, Hostess Brands Inc. Thomas’ immediately filed suit against Botticella in the Third Circuit to prevent him from assuming his new role at Hostess. Thomas’ alleges that Botticella copied proprietary files on to a USB thumb drive in the last days of his employment and that they have good reason to believe Botticella may reveal the trade secret to his new employer.
In February, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick issued an injunction barring Botticella from taking up his new job at Hostess until the litigation ends. Botticella’s attorney Elizabeth K. Ainslie made an interesting analogy, asking “If the assistant coach of the Philadelphia Eagles moves to the Dallas Cowboys, is he supposed to forget all of the plays that he learned while at the Eagles?” In today’s job market, where executives are often shifting from one competitor to another, trade secrets and proprietary information are bound to travel with them. Short of a lobotomy, or using the infamous Men In Black memory eraser – extreme measures for guarding a muffin recipe – it is unclear what the companies, or the court system, will be able to do to prevent this problem. In the meantime, Botticella will have to relax in his California home, trying to forget all that he ever knew about the “nooks and crannies.”