A former employee of one of the nation’s largest gambling vendors cannot take a job with a rival company for at least a year, a federal judge has ruled in an ongoing lawsuit that contends the employee’s hiring would endanger trade secrets.
Scientific Games International Inc., which is the Georgia Lottery’s biggest gaming vendor and has offices in Alpharetta, filed suit last year after former vice president Brian Keith Cash took a job with its competitor, International Game Technology PLC. Scientific Games requested a temporary restraining order as the suit advanced to prevent anyone from using what it says is proprietary gaming and financial information.
In his ruling, Senior U.S. District Judge William C. O’Kelley said Cash, since the suit was filed, had returned files to Scientific Games and honored a six-month non-compete clause in his employment agreement. But, O’Kelley said, “there was a lot of room for improvement in the approach he took when leaving the company.
“He could have better identified and extracted his personal information if that was indeed his only motive for downloading files to the hard drive,” O’Kelley said. “The volume of information he took was staggering, and it had the potential to cause grave harm if it fell into the hands of SGI’s competitors. He also could have been more forthcoming about his opportunities at IGT and even elected not to attend certain meetings out of respect for the company. He did neither of these things.”
While the suit names Cash as the defendant, it is a rare public look at the stakes in a prolific multibillion-dollar industry. The two companies compete neck and neck as the two biggest providers to lotteries in the United States of so-called “instant-lottery” services, such as popular scratch-off ticket games for sale at local convenience stores across the state.
In a statement released by the company, Scientific Games Lottery Chief Executive Jim Kennedy said he was “pleased with the court’s decision in favor of Scientific Games. We remain committed to protecting our intellectual property, trade secrets, contracts, and plans which help us add value and enhance our customers’ profitability.”
O’Kelley’s ruling bars Cash from working with IGT until at least Jan. 31, 2018.