I created a recipe for a specialty food product in 2010. I registered my business that would produce this specialty product in early 2014. In late 2014 I began working as the director of public relations and outreach for a business that would provide nutritional and lifestyle programs for individuals and groups. I was not pursuing my own business at this time. My former boss was not in the food business, although we had discussed a partnership. I didn't want to sign the agreement, but now he wants me to turn over my recipe. He paid for some ingredients that I used to try new ideas or provide samples to his nutrition clients, but the recipe never changed and I was always the one who produced the product because I knew it from memory. Because it was my creation to begin with. How do I proceed? Is going to court inevitable?
Several follow up questions:
1. Do you have any sort of employment agreement now?
2. Did you disclose early on that you were working on this side project?
3. What state are you in?
4. Have you taken steps to protect the proprietary info to date--such as using an NDA?
5. Does anyone else within the company know about this recipe?
6. Is the former employer in the industry to any extent? From your description it sounds like a maybe.
The goal here would be to separate the proprietary details and show that this did not fall within the realm of your employment. I don't think that your employer has enough of a leg to stand on here so even going to court would not be a sure thing for him. However there are some preventive steps you can take now based on answers to the questions above.
Let me know if you would like to chat more,