Stryker (NYSE:SYK) won a round in its lawsuit against upstart rival Blue Belt Technologies and its new hire, a former Stryker marketing director, after a federal judge barred the ex-employee from attending this week’s annual conference of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Judge Janet Neff of the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan enjoined James Bruty, an 8-year Stryker vet and former senior global director of marketing for Stryker Navigation, from attending the AAOS conference in Chicago, according to court documents.
Stryker sued Blue Belt and Bruty this week, alleging that Bruty violated his separation agreement with Stryker and stole trade secrets on his way out, according to the documents. Blue Belt, which won FDA clearance for its NavioPFS partial knee replacement system late last year, announced Bruty’s hiring last month.
Bruty allegedly told Stryker he was leaving for a non-competing company called 4Web, according to the lawsuit. But Stryker soon discovered that Bruty allegedly lied about his destination "and took competitive employment as Blue Belt Technologies Inc.’s vice president of sales & marketing in violation of his non-compete covenant" and "downloaded Stryker’s highly confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets to an external hard drive," according to the documents. Bruty also allegedly sought to lure other Stryker Navigation employees away to Blue Belt, the lawsuit states.
Stryker asked Neff to bar Bruty from the AAOS conference and from further alleged violations of his separation deal with Stryker. The company is also seeking injunctions barring Bruty’s employment as vice president of sales & marketing for Blue Belt or in any capacity for its navigation products; an injunction barring Bruty from contact with any potential customers gleaned from his time at Stryker; an order to return any devices used to transfer data from his Stryker laptop; an injunction against contacting any Stryker employees; damages, punitive damages and legal fees.
Neff ordered Bruty to stay away from the AAOS conference and barred him and Blue Belt from using any information obtained from Stryker and from contacting any Stryker employees in an effort to lure them away to Blue Belt. Neff also ordered Bruty to return "any and all files, devices and/or documents that contain or relate to Stryker’s confidential and proprietary information, including without limitation, all computers, electronic media, PDAs and electronic storage devices," according to the documents.