Last month, a tech giant (IBM) sued one of its former executives who went to work for another tech giant (Microsoft), alleging that she breached her non-compete agreement and misappropriated trade secrets. Given the parties involved, you probably assume that the trade secrets at issue were source codes or algorithms. In fact, they were IBM’s diversity initiatives, strategies, and data.
In IBM v. McIntyre, IBM alleged that its former chief diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, misappropriated IBM’s trade secrets by accepting an offer to hold the same title at Microsoft. IBM’s chief concern with McIntyre’s new employment concerned her “first-hand knowledge of IBM’s confidential strategies, secret diversity representation data, proprietary technologies, and recruitment, retention, and promotions plans for diverse talent.” According to IBM, such information would inevitably help Microsoft to compete against IBM for the “same diverse talent” that McIntyre was responsible for recruiting, retaining, and developing at IBM. IBM sought injunctive relief against McIntyre to prevent her from working for Microsoft until the expiration of the twelve-month non-competition period in her agreement with IBM.