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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Former Employee Stealing Customers

    My question involves business law in the state of: Georgia

    Hello,

    I am the owner of a printing company. I recently had to let an employee go, I did not have the employee sign a non-disclosure or non-competitive agreement when I hired them. When the employee was hired, they were brought in as a designer and print production person. The former employee has been hired by another printing company, and is working as a salesperson for the new company.

    It has come to my attention that the employee is contacting my customers and taking them as clients at their new place of employment. I believe the employee has made a copy of my client list and is using it to take clients from my business. What can I do at this time to prevent this from happening further?

    Is it possible to contact law enforcement and have him charged with theft of intellectual property of something similar? The former employee did make a copy of all the customer files, and I believe they also made a copy of my contact list, this was done without my permission.

    Please advise me in any possible action I may take, the former employee has already taken several clients and I have lost bids because of this.

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,521

    Default Re: Former Employee Stealing Customers

    This is not a criminal action but a civil one. Law enforcement will not take any action, and this is not intellectual property to begin with.

    Any action you took would have to be in the civil courts. Your position is weak since there is no covenant not to compete or other like agreement; however that doesn't mean you can't try. You NEED to contact an attorney - this is not a DIY project.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    437

    Default Re: Former Employee Stealing Customers

    We all work in a free market system. If your ex-employee and her new employer outbid her on jobs, that's just the way it is. However, if your former employer is targeting your company with the intention of doing economic harm, then you may be able to take some civil action. Your first stop is to speak with an attorney and get an expert opinion. An attorney sending a "cease and desist" letter and threatening legal action perhaps is the place to start.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Former Employee Stealing Customers

    Thank you for your advice.

    In regard to the files that the former employee took, they made a copy of all the customer files which include artwork, layouts, etc. that were created by the former employee and other employees. A large portion of these files contain work that was completed to produce the products the customer wanted.

    I hope I can explain this clearly. To produce the product customers required, my employees had to create the artwork. The former employee has copies of all this work, which includes work that I paid him to as an employee, and artwork that was also created by other employees for use in my business. He has this artwork and is using it to bid on my customers. There are two ways that artwork is created, one is paid for by the customer to use as they need to. The other is artwork that my employees have created for my business that the former employee is now using as well.

    I have also discovered that he indeed make a copy of my customer database, and is using it to contact my customers.

    I understand that case of the former employee targeting my customers is a civil one. Is there a case to be made for the artwork that is property of my company that he is now using at another business?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    437

    Default Re: Former Employee Stealing Customers

    I believe so, yes. The employee stole proprietary information - you need to discuss that with a business law attorney right away. You can also explore with the attorney the possibility of filing a criminal complaint, although your recourse may largely be a civil matter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Former Employee Stealing Customers

    The term you are looking for in this issue is "Tortous interference with a business relationship".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Former Employee Stealing Customers

    Thank you for the advice.

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