Recently, the First District Court of Appeals, Houston affirmed a take-nothing judgment against all parties. Malone v. PLH Group, Inc., 01-19-00016-CV, 2020 WL 1680058, at *1 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 7, 2020, pet. denied). The defendant in Malone Power Line Services, Inc. (PLS) constructed electrical transmission lines, built distribution systems, and provided construction services. The plaintiff Thomas Malone (Malone) entered into a three-year employment agreement with PLS in 2014 to serve as its Vice President of Operations. The employment agreement prohibited Malone from competing against PLS, soliciting PLS’s employees, and disclosing confidential information through restrictive covenants.
Continue Reading Proving the Element of “Use” for a Trade Secrets Claim Requires Either Harm to the Defendant or Enrichment of the Plaintiff

For the last few years, defendants in trade secrets and other commercial litigation claims have used the previous version of Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) as a defense to those claims.  Langley v. Insgroup, Inc., No. 14-19-00127-CV, 2020 WL 1679625 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] Apr. 7, 2020, no pet. h.) is another example of this strategy.  In Langley, an insurance salesman left his employer to work for a competitor.  The former employer accused the salesman of violating his non-compete agreement, tortious interference with the employer’s contracted clients, breach of fiduciary duty, and violation of the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act.  The new employer was also a defendant to several of those causes of action.
Continue Reading TCPA’s Commercial Speech Exemption Applies to Employer’s Claims Against Former Employee

Courts will not enforce non-compete provisions in employment contracts when the employer breached the employment contract, too.  That is the lesson of Insgroup, Inc. v. Langley, No. 14-18-01071-CV, 2020 WL 1679401 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Apr. 7, 2020, no pet. h.). 
Continue Reading Employer’s Breach of Agreement Containing Non-Compete Provision Results in Court’s Denial of Request to Enforce Non-Compete Provision

As previously mentioned in this blog, one of the biggest issues in trade secrets litigation in Texas is the application of the state’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) to claims under the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act (TUTSA).  Because of the broad language of the TCPA, defendants can file a TCPA motion to dismiss in almost any trade secrets case.  Texas Representative Jeff Leach, however, has filed a bill to change that.  
Continue Reading Bill to Amend TCPA filed in Texas House of Representatives