On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Somerset County.
Michels, Skillman and Landau.
On leave granted, defendants Vincent Lauria (Lauria), Parker Chemical Corp. and Adhesive Consultants Corp. (referred to jointly as Adcon), appeal from an order of the Chancery Division, Somerset County, which granted preliminary injunctive relief in favor of plaintiff, National Starch Company (National), respecting Lauria's employment with Adcon.
On September 23, 1986, National filed its verified complaint seeking to prevent Lauria from disclosing alleged trade secrets and from working at Adcon in the area of envelope adhesives for a period of 15 months. The trial court entered an order to show cause including temporary restraints, and after oral argument on November 3, 1986, it continued the temporary restraints. The preliminary injunction order under appeal was entered on November 17, 1986.
Lauria and Adcon were preliminarily enjoined so as to bar Lauria from commencing any employment responsibilities that "in any way relate to or involve envelope adhesives," pending final determination. Lauria was also preliminarily enjoined from disclosing any of National's trade secrets and Adcon was enjoined from requiring him to do so. Lauria and Adcon, while disclaiming any necessity for the trade secret restraints, are primarily concerned with the absolute bar against Lauria's performance of any duties in the envelope adhesives area.
The preliminary injunction was granted after argument on the papers. No additional proofs were taken. See R. 4:52-1(a), (c).
National is engaged in the business of developing, manufacturing and marketing a variety of adhesive products, particularly envelope adhesives.
Lauria is a former National employee who resigned on September 9, 1986, after nine years of working exclusively in the area of envelope adhesives. He is presently employed by Adcon at its Atlanta facility. Because of the restraints entered by the trial court, Lauria has not yet worked in the area of envelope adhesives, according to the papers filed by Adcon.
National expends large amounts of time and money in research and development of envelope adhesive products. It is perhaps the second leading manufacturer and marketer of envelope adhesives in the world.
National asserts that it has developed a wide variety of trade secrets and proprietary information which it has zealously sought to protect. According to National, its trade secrets include coded adhesive formulas, codes for interpreting formulas, manufacturing processes, product pricing, quality control procedures, new and existing product research and development, raw material suppliers, marketing and sales strategies and specialized product specifications and formulations for particular customers.
National also asserts envelope adhesives are complex in that they are composed of numerous ingredients, each of which has a unique functional property. Each of these ingredients is selected from hundreds of raw materials available to the adhesive industry from numerous manufacturers. Although these raw materials are generally known and available to the trade, National says that processes for combining them are highly confidential, and in some instances, ingredients have been formulated and manufactured by National for its exclusive use. Therefore, it says, it would be almost ...