(CN) – The 3rd Circuit blocked Hostess Brands from hiring a rival’s former executive until a lawsuit accusing the executive of misappropriating trade secrets is resolved.
Bimbo Bakeries USA had asked a federal judge for an order barring Chris Botticella from joining Hostess to protect its trade secrets.
Botticella was a senior executive at Bimbo from 2001 to early 2010. Bimbo makes baked goods under the brand names of Entenmann’s, Thomas’, Boboli and Mrs. Baird’s, among others.
Botticella was privy to many of Bimbo’s trade secrets, including the process that produces the “nooks and crannies” of Thomas’ English Muffins.
Hostess made Botticella a job offer, which he accepted in October 2009. He stopped working for Bimbo in January 2010.
The Philadelphia-based panel upheld a federal judge’s ruling that Botticella can’t start working for Hostess until the trade secrets lawsuit is resolved.
“In his new position at Hostess, Botticella would have broad oversight over bakery operations, just as he had at Bimbo. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion by preliminarily determining that the Bimbo and Hostess positions were substantially similar,” Judge Morton Greenberg wrote for the three-judge panel.
“A number of the files accessed from Botticella’s laptop during his final days at Bimbo were highly sensitive and their possession by a competitor would have been damaging to Bimbo.”