Can You Disclose Trade Secrets after Your Non-Compete Expires?

Non-compete and employment agreements typically have restraints from disclosing trade secrets of the company.  The phrase “trade secrets” is usually defined very generally to cover any information that is created by the company, and its employees, that is not readily available to the public.  The non-compete agreement will be limited in time and will expire after a couple of months or years.  The question I was recently asked was whether a former employee could disclose the trade secrets after the non-compete period expired. The answer to this question generally is maybe because it depends on the information that the employee is looking to disclose.  The non-compete will prevent the employee from working for a new employer and/or soliciting employees for a certain amount of years.  However, the trade secret or confidentiality provisions may survive the non-compete period.  Each employment/non-compete agreement must be evaluated separately to make sure that your actions do not constitute a breach of the agreement.  We recommend that you contact an employment lawyer to discuss your agreement and evaluate whether the information you need to disclose is actually a protected trade secret.
11/27/10 – Tom McKinney – Castronovo & McKinney