Employers should establish data policies

A recent case serves as a reminder to employers to establish data policies and review the policies periodically.  In Dana, Ltd. v. Axle & Mfg. Holdings, 2013 WL 4498993, W.D.Mich. (2013), an employer sued a competitor and two employees after the employer’s employees quit their jobs and were hired by the competitior.  Prior to leaving their employment with the employer, the employees downloaded a number of the employer’s files onto their presonal storage devices and took those files with them to the competitior.  The employer’s suit alleged, inter alia, misappropriation of trade secrets.

In its ruling, the court found that the employer did not meet its burden.  One of the factors that the court used in support of its ruling was that the employer did not have a policy prohibiting employees from storing employer’s information on the employees’ personal computers and personal storage devices.  The court found that this lack of a policy meant that the employees had not acquired the information by improper means, which was an essential element of the employer’s claim.

Although this case involved the Michigan Uniform Trade Secrets Act, companies in Georgia should also ensure that they have comprehensive and up-to-date data policies.  For more information, please contact Thomas D. Calkins or Jason E. Voyles.