The “Inevitable Disclosure” Doctrine in Texas – Background Regarding Trade Secret Misappropriation

To understand the inevitable disclosure doctrine, it is necessary to first have an understanding of the law regarding trade secret misappropriation. Under Texas law, trade secret misappropriation is established by showing that a trade secret existed, the trade secret was acquired through a breach of a confidential relationship or was discovered by improper means, and the defendant used the trade secret without the plaintiff’s authorization. See Tex. Integrated Conveyor Sys., Inc. v. Innovative Conveyor Concepts, Inc., 300 S.W.3d 348, 366-67 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2009, pet. denied); Avera v. Clark Moulding, 791 S.W.2d 144, 145 (Tex. App.–Dallas 1990, no writ); accord CQ, Inc. v. TXU Mining Co., 565 F.3d 268, 273 (5th Cir. 2009); Alcatel USA, Inc. v. DGI Tech., 166 F.3d 772, 784 (5th Cir. 1999). Upon the formation of an employment relationship, certain duties arise apart from any written contract. For example, an employee is prohibited from using confidential or proprietary information acquired during the relationship in a manner adverse to his employer. This obligation survives termination of employment. Furthermore, though it does not bar the former employee from using the general knowledge, skill, and experience acquired during employment, this duty does prevent him from utilizing confidential information or trade secrets acquired during the course of employment. See Rugen v. Interactive Bus. Sys., Inc., 864 S.W.2d 548, 551 (Tex. App. –Dallas 1993, no writ); Executive Tele-Communication Sys., Inc. v. Buchbaum, 669 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Tex. App.–Dallas 1984, no writ). Injunctive relief is an appropriate remedy to curtail violation of this duty. Thermotics, Inc. v. Bat-Jac Tool Co., 541 S.W.2d 255 (Tex. Civ. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 1976, no writ); Hyde Corp. v. Huffines, 158 Tex. 566, 314 S.W.2d 763 (1958).

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