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Trade secrets stolen from meat processing company

Cargill Inc. has sued a former employee, claiming the executive stole trade secrets and gave them to a new employer. The company claims that the man took the information shortly before he accepted a new position with a rival company. Trade secrets are incredibly valuable to a company, including those in New Mexico, and legal action may be in order when this information is compromised.

According to the lawsuit filed by Cargill, the former executive downloaded a significant amount of confidential information regarding the company's meat processing business. Cargill and JBS, the man's new employer, are business competitors. The largest meat processing companies have proprietary methods by which they process meat in the cheapest and fastest way possible, allowing for more profit.

The man named in the lawsuit filed by Cargill was employed by the company for 20 years. The former employee quit Cargill abruptly and unexpectedly, prompting an investigation into his computer history. Analysis then reportedly revealed the man had downloaded secret information to an external hard drive, presumably for the benefit of his new employer. Cargill is pushing for a trial and is seeking damages, as well as a legal order preventing JBS from accessing or using the information.

Particularly with highly competitive industries, trade secrets are some of the most valuable property of a business. As illustrated in this case, a New Mexico business has the option to initiate legal action against an individual or company if trade secrets are stolen. The best way to protect proprietary and secret information is by following protocols to establish legal protections when possible.

Source: Star Tribune, "Cargill sues former executive, accusing him of stealing secrets", Mike Hughlett, Aug. 23, 2014

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