California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

Sep. 21 2010

Hurd and Hewlett-Packard Settle

Topics: Legal Information

On September 7, 2010, Hewlett-Packard sued its former CEO for (1) Breach of Contract and (2) Threatened Misappropriation of Trade Secrets arising from the announcement of Hurd’s employment by Oracle on the 31rst day following the execution of a separation agreement with HP and a day or so after HP’s payment of over $12 million as a separation pay.

Many states have adopted a legal doctrine known as the “Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine,” which allows a trade secret owner to enjoin a former employee from working for a direct competitor despite the trade secret owner’s inability to prove actual or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets. The inevitable disclosure doctrine is based upon a demonstration that “the employee’s new job duties will inevitably cause the employee to rely upon knowledge of the former employer’s trade secrets.” See Whyte v. Schlage Lock Co., 101 Cal.App.4th 1443, 1446 (2002). However, California finds that the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine would violate California’s public policy and act as a deterrent to freedom of competition.

Practitioner and Human Resource professionals hoping to learn about the viability of a “Threatened Misappropriation” claim in this context will not get the first take from the Hurd case. Indeed, reports of the settlement between Hurd and HP indicate that HP’s lawsuit has been dropped and Hurd has returned or agreed to return about half of the value of his severance package to HP.

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For over 20 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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