Illinois Bakery and Former Pastry Chef Settle Business Dispute Outside of Court

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, Evanston bakery owner Susan Davis Friedman filed suit against former pastry chef Maryann Huppert in the Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that Huppert had stolen a binder containing key bakery recipes, including one of the bakery’s signature items, the Cinnamon Bomb. In her lawsuit, Friedman claimed that the recipes were the property of the bakery, although they were developed by both the owner and chef over a three-year period. Huppert, however, claimed that she had brought the recipes from home, and that they came from websites and cookbooks. Ultimately, Friedman and Huppert were able to resolve their business dispute outside of the courtroom, and Friedman dismissed her suit last week. Neither party has disclosed the terms of the settlement.Illinois Bakery and Former Pastry Chef Settle Business Dispute Outside of Court

This business dispute and lawsuit underscores the intersection between exclusive recipes and intellectual property law. This already complex area of the law is only further complicated by the nature of recipes, which often include minute variations on the same basic recipe. Furthermore, recipes are not currently covered under any type of patent or copyright law, but could qualify as trade secrets under certain circumstances.

It is not uncommon for disputes to develop between business owners and former employees, particularly where the employee was responsible for providing some degree of professional services. Like doctors or scientists, employment contracts may prohibit former employees from using trade secrets, new chemical formulas, or client lists once they leave their places of employment. Such contracts may even contain non-compete clauses, which bar employees from operating similar businesses within a particular geographic area for a specified period of time.

Naperville business owners who are facing a business dispute related to trade secrets or interpretation of an employment contract, you will need an experienced Naperville, Illinois business law attorney to assist them through negotiations and any lawsuits that might ensue from the dispute.