Thursday, January 21, 2010, 1/21/2010 10:53:00 AM

Bimbo Says Key Employee Threatens the Secrets of Making Thomas' English Muffins

By Todd

Bimbo Bakeries USA is the name of the entity that makes and distributes Thomas' bagels and english muffins as well as Entenmann's baked products. Chris Botticella has worked for Bimbo or its predecessors for approximately 20 years. Bimbo says Botticella knows all the recipes and manufacturing secrets of these products and says he is "one of less than ten people in the world who with full knowledge of how to produce Thomas' English Muffins." The complaint, linked above if you click on the title to this post, even mentions the secrets of the "nooks and crannies" in the english muffins and how to obtain the intended moisture levels.

Botticella apparently signed a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement on March 13, 2009 when he was promoted to manage the California facility where Bimbo makes Thomas' English Muffins. And then, on January 4, 2010, Botticella announced his retirement, giving no indication he was actually planning on taking a position with Hostess.

As you can see from the complaint above, Bimbo is suing Botticella in Pennsylvania for anticipatory breach of the confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement AND inevitable disclosure of the Bimbo trade secrets he knows, including the manufacturing processes and recipes for Thomas' English Muffins. Bimbo says Botticella should be stopped by judicial decree.

It is important to note the venue of this case as being in Pennsylvania. Botticella's employment agreement apparently lays venue there. But Bimbo's arguments are ones that might not make legal sense in California, which is where Botticella resides and where he was performing the work for Bimbo and, logically, where the trade secrets reside.

We'll keep an eye on this one for you but we predict Botticella's legal response may involve a challenge to the venue of this case and his attorneys may study California's historical treatment of foreign jurisdiction injunctions and judgments that offend the public policy of California as represented in Business Code Section 16600 of that state. More soon.


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