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Help! My sales rep stole my business plan!

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I opened a restaurant in Tennessee 8 months ago. I had a sales representative from a large distributor from whom I bought food products. This man knew my recipe ingredients, business plan, target market, cost of sales, basically everything about my business. My type of restaurant was very unique to the area I live in. There were no other establishments other than mine offering take out and delivery of Southwestern menu items- until now. I just found out yesterday that the salesperson who represented me when I first opened is opening a Southwestern take-out and delivery restaurant of his own. It seems that he has stolen my idea. I understand that business is business, but it seems to me that the relationship he had towards me as my sales agent puts him in a special position. Does he have the right to use my proprietary secrets to his advantage?


Senior Member
Tough case.

Copying a good idea that is not protected by any trade secret agreement or patent or copyright or trademark is not illegal.

The fact that you opened up and are doing well is common knowledge and observable to anyone. And ordering goods from a salesman is NOT the type of confidential relationship that a client has with a lawyer or a patient with a doctor, etc. ANd I doubt that you gave him access to really confidential information.

BUT I'd consult local counsel and see if threatening the new competitor with litigation may not get him to rethink the concept and perhaps the lawyer will have a better approach that has a basis in your state's laws or there are oral agreements or written agreements, such as with his ex-employer, that may give you a leg up.

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