What’s the recipe for a successful enforcement of a restrictive covenant case? Well, if you missed our webinar yesterday, there’s a case out of Pennsylvania that takes that discussion out of the kitchen and into the real world.
Ever eat Thomas’ English Muffins and wondered how they make all those "nooks and crannies"? Well, the first thing you should know is that Mr. "Thomas" isn’t the owner of the english muffins anymore; a company called Bimbo Bakeries is. And Bimbo got stirred up quickly when it found out that its secret might be let out of the oven.
Allegedly, former Bimbo Bakeries executive Chris Botticella knew the key to making the nooks and the crannies. And, although he allegedly told his employer that he planned to retire, he planned to work for Hostess (makes of such classics such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs). Bimbo thought that was a half-baked idea, and asked a court for an injunction claiming that it was "inevitable" that he would disclose those secrets to Hostess.
According to published reports, Botticella is one of only seven people in the world who knows all the secrets on how to manufacture those muffins.
The judge gobbled up Bimbo’s arguments and found that even though Botticella had not yet disclosed the secrets, it was inevitable that he would. Through his attorney, the "muffin man" has said he will appeal.
The doctrine of "inevitable disclosure" in Connecticut has been applied in some cases, though it is by no means a blue-ribbon argument. Employers who seek to use that argument, should grill their attorneys about the limits of such a doctrine and realize that the doctrine should be sparingly used.
And, if you’re wondering, the lawsuit does not say that Botticella lives on Drury Lane — only that he lives in California. If you’ve forgotten the words, you can find those lyrics and the song below. (You’ll thank me when you are still humming the tune hours later.)