Inevitability Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Inevitability Doctrine or inevitable-disclosure doctrine is a legal principle applicable to trade secrets. Under this doctrine, that former employer could prevent an employee from taking that job and prevent the new employer from hiring the employee merely because the employee had such knowledge that would “inevitably” be disclosed. The plaintiff must prove that the former employee has confidential information and will not be able to avoid using that knowledge to unfairly compete against the plaintiff. The principle behind this doctrine is that an employee with knowledge of a former employer’s trade secrets would “inevitably” disclose the same to the new employer since the nature of the new job would lead to such disclosures, provided that the new and old employers are competitors.

The doctrine has been adopted in some states but has been rejected by others on grounds that it effectively turns a nondisclosure agreement into a disfavored noncompetition agreement. The doctrine finds coherent expression in a case PepsiCo, Inc. v. Redmond, 54 F.3d 1262 (7th Cir. Ill. 1995) where the plaintiff PepsiCo filed an action to enjoin a former employee of plaintiff, from divulging its trade secrets and confidential information in his new job and from assuming any duties in his new job relating to beverage pricing, marketing, and distribution. The injunction granted was affirmed holding that plaintiff may prove a claim of trade secret misappropriation by demonstrating that defendant's new employment would inevitably lead him to rely on plaintiff's trade secrets. Plaintiff proved that defendant possessed extensive confidential information and, in his new job, would inevitably use this information.

Inevitability Doctrine is also called Inevitable-Misappropriation Doctrine.