Brattleboro, VT, April 18, 2002 — The Vermont Supreme Court recently affirmed the judgement entered in favor of Chroma Technology Corp. that the Chroma defendants did not violate any legal obligation to their former employee when they founded a competing business in 1991. In so doing, the Court clarified the law in the State of Vermont on the important issue of when and how employees may go into direct competition with their employers. Prior to this decision, no case in Vermont had squarely addressed the issue since the early years of the 20th century.Heidi Harvey, of the firm of Fish & Richardson P.C., Boston, MA, was leadcounsel for the Chroma defendants at trial and on appeal. She observed, “This decision is an extremely important statement of the modern law inVermont on one of the most difficult issues that faces employees and employers – who has the burden of drawing the line between the employees’general, knowledge, skills, and abilities and the employer’s proprietary information. The Vermont Supreme Court’s places the burden squarely on theemployer to take reasonable steps to protect its information and point out to its employees that it considers the information confidential. The fact that information is valuable does not, by itself, make an employee strictly liable never to use it.”In the action, the former employer, Omega Optical, of Brattleboro, VT, alleged that former employees misappropriated Omega’s confidential information and breached their duties of employment to Omega when they founded Chroma Technology Corp, also in Brattleboro, VT, in 1991 to make optical filters for fluorescence microscopy in competition with Omega and others. Omega sought a permanent injunction and $20 million in damages from Chroma. After a 22-day bench trial in 1999, the Superior Court foundin favor of the Chroma defendants.On appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court, Omega asked the Court to hold that employees who acquire valuable information in the course of their employment “owe a duty of confidentiality to the employer merely by virtue of their status as employees, regardless of whether the employer has done anything either to protect the information or to communicate to the employees the confidential and proprietary nature of the information.” Omega also asked the Court to hold that former employees “continue to owe a duty of loyalty, including refraining from competition with their former employer, after they leave employment.”The Vermont Supreme Court rejected both arguments, noting that “[Plaintiff’s argument] is simply at odds with the case law, which requiressomething more than the mere employer-employee relationship to establish a duty of confidentiality.” The Court also noted that “[Plaintiff] cites no authority for the proposition that at-will employees continue to owe a duty of loyalty to a former employer, even after they have left that employment, that constrains them from ever acting to the detriment of that employer. Such a common law duty would prevent an employee from ever going to work for a competitor even in the absence of an agreement not to do so, an anomalous result.”
12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The NCUA announced that 225 low-income credit unions received more than $2 million in funds in the agency’s latest round of grants.The NCUA’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives administered the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund grant process, and its Director, William Myers, said the high degree of credit union participation has been encouraging. continue reading »
The European Council has since endorsed the 2050 net-zero objective in a move that was hailed by investors.‘Game-changing’Fiona Reynolds, chief executive officer of the PRI, said the Commission’s Green Deal “reflects the bold policy ambition we’ve been looking for”.“The broad scope of the deal – encompassing goals such as carbon neutrality, sustainable transport, a zero pollution Europe and a just transition – provides a clear framework for action from all areas of society,” she added.Tanguy van de Werve, director general of Efama, the trade association for asset managers in Europe, said the Green Deal initiative could be a “game-changer”.“As the voice of the asset management industry in Europe, we wholeheartedly support the European Commission in this initiative,” he added. “We are committed to playing our role as an industry in channelling the necessary funds for projects which are essential to its success.”However, van de Werve said that for this to happen investors needed access to “robust, comparable, reliable and publicly available ESG data on investee companies”.Asset managers and other financial institutions are facing increased disclosure obligations under various sustainable finance regulations initiated by the Commission, and Efama has been arguing its members would not be able to comply based on the current data currently available to them. PensionsEurope and Efama have reacted positively to a new climate change-driven growth strategy unveiled by the European Commission this week, although they said the success of the EU sustainable finance agenda required tackling issues to do with the availability and quality of environmental and other data on investee companies.The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) also welcomed the Commission’s European Green Deal, which sets out the new Commission’s strategy for environmentally and socially sustainable economic growth.The Commission said it covered all sectors of the economy, name-checking transport, energy, and buildings, and industries such as steel and cement.A specific goal of the Green Deal is to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050, with the Commission pledging to present a bill by March next year to enshrine the objective into legislation. This was “to provide predictability for investors,” among other ends, it said. Other planned measures include putting forward a proposal for a carbon border tax, and a “circular economy action plan”. Aleksandra Palinska, senior regulatory policy advisor at Efama“Finance is a part of it, but until now it’s pretty much been the only solution looked at, when you really need to focus on the real economy,” she said. “It’s not only about putting in restrictions but also looking at how companies can be helped in this transition.“This does seem to be a quite comprehensive package and we really hope that member states and the European Parliament will support the Commission in making it a reality.”The Commission suggested the review of the NFRD was also about tackling a persistent excessive focus by many companies on short-term financial performance compared with their long-term development and sustainability aspects.Another aspect of the renewed sustainable finance strategy would be about improving the integration of climate and environmental risks into the EU prudential framework and “assessing the suitability of the existing capital requirements for green assets,” the Commission said.Taxonomy data solution?Efama’s request for a solution to the data problem facing asset managers may still be met under the Commission’s ongoing sustainable finance strategy, however.Last week it was announced that EU negotiating teams had reached a provisional political agreement on the framework for the taxonomy – a system for classifying the greenness of economic activity – and that the deal included reporting obligations for corporates and not just asset managers and other financial institutions.However, the deal is to be revisited after failing to get the green light at a meeting of ambassadors for EU member states on Wednesday.According to a spokeswoman at the EU Council, the body for EU member states currently presided by Finland, the ambassadors (who meet as a group called Coreper) are to be presented with a revised text on Monday and the presidency will bring the text to the European Parliament for further negotiations. The objective is still to reach a deal on the regulation for the taxonomy framework by the end of the year, the spokeswoman added.Efama’s Palinska said she understands there was a risk the new requirements targeting reporting by investee companies would be removed, but said there were more controversial aspects of the taxonomy.The Council spokeswoman said the outcome of Wednesday’s Coreper discussion was that the compromise deal from last week “is not fully satisfactory and some fine-tuning is needed, most notably regarding issues relating to technological neutrality/energies in transition”.According to Sven Giegold, a member of the Green Party in the European Parliament, France and a number of eastern European states opposed it and the UK abstained. He said national governments wanted to renegotiate with the Parliament on some points concerning the ultimate fate of nuclear power under the taxonomy. Commission Green Deal ‘an ambitious roadmap’ The association has been pushing for a review of the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), which sets out a minimum level of environmental information that many large European companies must provide in their annual reports alongside more detailed non-binding guidelines.There have been several indications the Commission would review the NFRD, and this was confirmed in its Green Deal announcement on Wednesday as part of renewed sustainable finance strategy to be presented in the third quarter of next year.“The success of the sustainable finance action plan relies on the availability of quality, comparable, reliable and public ESG data on investee companies,” Aleksandra Palinska, senior regulatory policy advisor at Efama, told IPE. “The ability of the financial sector to comply with the rules is a prerequisite to make sustainable finance work.”Matti Leppälä, secretary general of PensionsEurope, the umbrella association for national pension fund bodies in Europe, welcomed the intended sustainable finance strategy renewal and the review of the NFRD by 2020.“Indeed, ensuring access to reliable and comparable non-financial data is a pre-requisite for the incorporation of ESG factors in investment decisions,” he said.Commenting more generally, he said PensionsEurope fully supported the Commission in working towards achieving its 2050 climate-neutrality goal.“The ambitious roadmap […] is a cornerstone in ensuring a transition towards a new EU growth strategy supported by investments in green technologies and sustainable solutions.”Efama’s Palinska welcomed the Green Deal extending the focus beyond the financial sector, saying it had the potential to have a more direct, immediate contribution towards sustainability goals.