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Michigan medical tech firm sued over trade secrets

Stryker Corp., a medical technologies company, is facing a trade secret lawsuit accusing it of conspiring to steal confidential information from Zimmer Inc., a company engaged in making orthopedic devices. Stryker is based in Michigan and the business litigation asserts that it engaged in a conspiracy with a former employee of Zimmer to improperly obtain customers and trade secrets belonging to the plaintiff. That employee left Zimmer to take a job with Stryker last month.

The complaint asserts that the defendants tried to lure away the plaintiff's top sales representatives by offering them high salaries in the six-figure range, along with a bonus based on how much business they could convert from the plaintiff. Allegedly, Zimmer's sales representatives were to receive an extra $30,000 for every half million dollars of converted business.

Claims asserted in the lawsuit against the ex-Zimmer employee include unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. Civil conspiracy and tortuous interference are the claims made against Stryker. While money damages are sought, a specific amount was not demanded. Media reports of the lawsuit said nothing about any claims for injunctive or declaratory relief, although such remedies are often sought in similar lawsuits based on alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.

Trade secrets and confidential information can often be protected by having employees of a company sign written confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements. In some instances, covenants not to compete can also be agreed to, barring employees from going to work for direct competitors for a given period of time. Business lawyers can draft such agreements for employers. Different states often have varying requirements for enforceability, so that must be carefully taken into consideration.

Source: Amarillo Globe-News, "Medical firm sues Amarillo man, other firm over trade secrets" Jim McBride, Feb. 16, 2014

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