Schlage Lock Co. v. Whyte, 101 Cal. App. 4th 1443 (2002)

J. Douglas Whyte was employed as a vice-president of Schlage where he was responsible for sales to The Home Depot (which alone accounts for 38 percent of Schlage’s sales) and other “big box” retailers such as HomeBase and Lowe’s. Whyte signed a confidentiality agreement to protect Schlage’s proprietary information and agreed to abide by the company’s code of ethics, which forbids disclosure of confidential information for personal or non-company uses. One of Schlage’s biggest competitors is Kwikset Corporation. Whyte accepted employment as vice-president of sales for national accounts with Kwikset on June 3, 2000 but did not resign from Schlage until June 14, 2000 – after participating on behalf of Schlage in confidential meetings with The Home Depot on June 5, 2000. After Schlage failed to obtain an injunction against Whyte in Colorado state court based on the “inevitable disclosure” of trade secrets doctrine, Whyte filed suit in California, alleging interference with his contract and seeking a declaration of his freedom to work for Kwikset. In response, Schlage filed a cross-complaint for unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, interference with contractual relations and other claims. Schlage obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting Whyte’s use or disclosure of any trade secrets and compelling him to return any such information in his possession. However, the trial court denied Schlage’s application for a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that although some of the information that Schlage sought to protect was trade secret, Schlage had failed to establish that Whyte threatened to or actually misappropriated any of Schlage’s trade secrets. Furthermore, the Court declined to adopt the “inevitable disclosure” doctrine that might have supported an injunction against Whyte based on the similarity of his positions at Schlage and Kwikset and the “inevitability” of his relying upon trade secrets to perform his new job duties.

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.