Telecom Fiber Sues For Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

On Monday in the Northern District of Georgia, plaintiff Telecom Fiber, LLC, “a leading installer of fiber optic cable and service provider for fiber optic networks for the southeastern United States,” filed a complaint against defendants George Bruce Mulroney, Brandon Scott Evans, Ernest Jacob Crowe, and Jared Redmond Charles, all former employees of Telecom’s for misappropriation of trade secrets.

According to the complaint, “Telecom Fiber constructs fiber optic networks and provides emergency response and maintenance services for fiber optic networks.” Telecom Fiber claimed it “has expended significant resources in developing its proprietary information including Telecom Fiber’s operational structure; customer, suppliers, and vendor contracts; pricing structure and pricing matrix;…Fiber Technician training program; methods of reporting on-the-job test results; detailed records of its customers’ networks…” The aforementioned information is Telecom Fiber’s “trade secrets.”  The plaintiff asserted that this is “valuable confidential business information.” Telecom said tits trade secrets “and knowledge and record keeping of the fiber optic networks in the metro-Atlanta area provides Telecom Fiber with a competitive advantage in the fiber optics emergency response service industry.” The plaintiff added that Telecom employees, including splicers and account managers, have access to its trade secrets.

Defendant Mulroney was the Director of Operations and an account manager for Zayo Group, Telecom’s primary customer, the complaint said; he had access to the plaintiff’s trade secrets as per his employment with the company and he was required to sign an Employee Covenants Agreement. The remaining defendants were splicers for Telecom and Mulroney was their direct supervisor. The Employee Covenants Agreements included a non-disclosure covenant, non-recruiting covenant, non-solicitation covenant, and a covenant not to compete. Telecom claimed that each employee has unique login credentials to access its Dropbox account, which stores its trade secrets. According to Telecom, the defendants regularly accessed this information and the information stored on their company devices, thus accessing this confidential information.

Telecom proffered that in November 2019, in less than eight hours, Mulroney logged into the Dropbox account and accessed more than 4,000 files on the account. The plaintiff alleged that Mulroney accessed Telecom’s trade secrets and confidential information, including those documents related to Zayo, such as “specific records of the splicing diagrams for several hundred customers that utilize fiber optic cables from Zayo” and other technical files. Moreover, Telecom asserted that the activity log shows that Mulroney “deleted or ‘cut’ over four thousand (4,000) files related to Zayo from the Telecom Fiber Dropbox account,” which were “later added or ‘pasted’…back to the Telecom Fiber Dropbox account.” Therefore, the plaintiff believes that Mulroney pasted these files to an unknown location. A day later, Mulroney quit.

The plaintiff claimed that Mulroney “had no legitimate business purpose for accessing any of the Trade Secrets stored on Telecom Fiber’s Dropbox account on the evening of Sunday, November 24, 2019, particularly in light of the substantial number of files accessed in such a short window of time and the day before he resigned his employment.” The complaint related that soon after his resignation, Mulroney began working as the Reginal Manager for Vertical Communications (Verticom). In July 2019, Evans and Charles resigned and began to work for Verticom and in March 2020, Crowe resigned and began working for Verticom.

According to the complaint, Evans, Charles and Crowe now work as splicers for Verticom, “who perform work on the Zayo network.” Furthermore, Telecom alleged that defendant Mulroney also recruited two additional splicers who worked on the Zayo network and were previously employed by Telecom before working for Verticom. Telecom claimed that Mulroney knew about the non-compete provision in their agreements and that “Verticom is a direct marketplace competitor of Telecom Fiber.” Telecom stated that when the defendants began working for Verticom, Zayo started to decrease its business with Telecom. Consequently, Telecom alleged that after the defendants began working for Verticom, “Zayo began working with Verticom and transferring its business from Telecom Fiber to Verticom.” Telecom also averred that the defendants’ roles are similar at Verticom to their previous roles at Telecom. Additionally, Telecom averred that the defendants are using Telecom’s trade secrets and confidential information, which they were privy to as a result of their employment at Telecom, but are now using this information at Verticom.

The complaint alleged the defendants acted in violation of Georgia’s Computer Systems Protection Act, the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,the Georgia Trade Secrets Act, the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, conversion, breach of contract, and civil conspiracy.

Telecom Fiber has sought injunctive relief, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, and other relief. Telecom Fiber is represented by Blue Sky Law.