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employee theft of company data

I just purchased a printing business which includes a free daily paper. The advertising pays for the expenses of the paper.

This business had 2 fulltime employees + the owner. Before closing employees planned to stay with the company after the sale.

On our first day of ownership they told me they do not plan to stay. This is fine except for the fact that one of the former employee took the backup system and with it, all the data.

Now they have opened a business down the street with a daily paper that is just like ours with a different name on the top.

Do I have any options at this point?

You do have options, but you need to consult an attorney immediately. We see two avenues of approach here.

Unless the employees have signed a written non-compete agreement, there is no law that prevents them from opening a competing paper. However, the distinctive layout and design of your paper may be covered by trademark protection.

There is also, obviously, the issue of the employees stealing the computer disk or other backup system containing confidential business information. In some states, this theft is a crime punishable by law. In many states, it is a felony to use a computer to commit a crime. To protect your rights, at the very least you should call the police and report the theft of this backup system, which is potentially worth $10,000+ to your business. The police will investigate, which may make your former employees think twice about this tactic.

In other states, you may have to sue the employees for theft of confidential business information. An attorney will walk you through this process. Meanwhile, you should do everything you possibly can to continue publication of your paper, and especially contact each advertiser to let them know that you are still around, and you are the same, official free newspaper.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 6:45 am and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Management / Leadership Development.
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