Sunday, July 17, 2016

Another Perspective of Losing One's Competitive Edge: Not Protecting One's Trade Secret:

Read, review and reflect 


Apache sues former executive over trade secrets

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By Natalie Posgate of The Texas Lawbook
Apache Corp. has filed suit against the former head of its Egyptian operations, alleging that the executive  misappropriated sensitive trade secrets earlier this year when he left the Houston oil and gas company to help create a start-up firm that would compete with Apache for business.

At Apache’s request, Harris County District Judge Jeff Shadwick issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday prohibiting Thomas M. Maher and the start-up, Apex International Energy Management, from using or disclosing any of Apache’s trade secrets and ordered  them to surrender the trade secrets to their lawyers.

“Apache is very concerned with the information it has confirmed regarding the actions and details of Mr. Tom Maher’s departure from the company,” Apache spokeswoman Castlen Kennedy said in a written statement. “We take the security of our proprietary, confidential, and trade secret information seriously, which is why we have requested immediate court action.”

Houston attorney Craig Smyser, who is defending Maher and Apex, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said his clients agreed to the terms of Tuesday’s court order.

Apache’s lead counsel, Tim Shelby of Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Anaipakos in Houston, could not  be reached for comment.

Maher is former head of Apache’s Egypt operations, and left the company for Apex earlier this month, the lawsuit says. Apache alleges Maher downloaded more than 230,000 Apache files to as many as nine portable USB drives between February and has last day at Apache on May 9 and brought the files over to his new job at Apex, where he serves as president and chief operating officer.

Among other things, the files include Apache’s “well, seismic survey, concession-bidding and financial information,” the lawsuit says.

According to Apache, Maher began communicating with Apex executives as early as November of last year, including Apex CEO Roger Plank, who is a former Apache president.
In addition to misappropriating trade secrets, the lawsuit alleges that Maher “played double agent, cementing his position at Apex while simultaneously remaining privy to the most sensitive of Apache internal discussions at the executive and board levels.”

This included meetings Maher arranged on behalf of Apex with top Egypt officials to inform them of “Apex’s intent to do business in Egypt as an Apache competitor and to begin to solicit” the Egypt officials, which include the minister with ultimate authority of oil and gas operations in Egypt, especially with respect to foreign investment, the lawsuit says.

“As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ conduct, Apache will suffer irreparable harm,” the complaint says. “Specifically, defendants are using Apache’s confidential, proprietary and trade secret information to gain an illegal advantage over Apache.”
Besides the restraining order, Apache’s lawsuit asks for monetary damages to be awarded, including any compensation Maher and Apex received “as a result of their misappropriation of Apache’s trade secrets.”

The temporary restraining order expires on June 24. Apache’s request for further injunction of the defendants from using its trade secrets will be determined at a June 20 hearing.
For a longer version of this article, please visit


In ancient China, Jiang Tai Gong book "Six Secret Teachings" is considered to be the "go-to" book for the "Big Picture" strategic thinkers and operational implementers.

A portion of this manuscript emphasized "the importance of protecting one's advantage" regardless of the situation.

King Wen asked Tai Gong:"How does one preserve the state's territory?"

Tai Gong said: "Do not estrange your relatives. Do not neglect the masses. Be concillatory and solicitous towards nearby states and control all that is under you. Do not loan the authority of state to other men. If you loan the authority of state to other men, then you will lose your authority. Do not hurt those of lower position to benefit those of higher position. Do not abandon the fundamental to save those that are inconsequential.

When the sun is at midday, you should dry things. If you grasp a knife, you must cut. If you hold an axe, you must attack."

"If at the height of the day, you do not dry things in the sun, this is termed losing the opportunity.

If you grasp a knife but do not cut anything, you will lose the moment for profits. If you hold an axe and do not attack, enemies will attack instead."

"If trickling streams are not blocked, they will become great rivers. If you do not extinguish the smallest flames, there is nothing much you can do when it turns into great flames.

If you do not eliminate the two-leaf sapling, you might have to use the axe to remove it in future." "For this reason, the ruler must focus on developing wealth within his state. Without material wealth, he has nothing with which to spread beneficence or to bring his relatives together.

If he estranges his relatives it will be harmful. If he loses the common people, he will be defeated. "

"Do not loan sharp weapons to other men. If you loan sharp weapons to other men, you will be hurt by them and will not live out your allotted span of years."
King Wen said:"What do you mean by benevolence and righteousness?"

Tai Gong replied: "Respect the common people, unite your relatives. If you respect the common people, they will be in harmony. And if you unite your relatives, they will be happy. This is the way to implement the essential cords of benevolence and righteousness."

"Do not allow other men to snatch away your awesomeness.Rely on your wisdom, follow the norm. Those that submit and accord with you, treat them generously and virtuously. Those that oppose you, break with force. If you respect the people and trust, the state will be peaceful and populace submissive." - T’ai Kung Liu-t’ao (Six Secret Teachings)

More on this topic can be found in the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.

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  • Never let your competition use your advantage against you.

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