There’s a lot of dough at stake in a high-profile fight in federal court between Panera and Papa John’s.
There’s no recipe at issue. Rather, the fight stems from the alleged theft by a senior executive, Panera claimed, of digital secrets and data management strategies aimed at capturing consumers who increasingly order their eats via smartphone.
The July 19 lawsuit was filed a day after former Panera senior executive Michael Nettles reported to work at Papa John’s Louisville headquarters. The lawsuit seeks an injunction that bars Nettles from working for the pizza giant.
At Panera, Nettles signed an agreement that he would not compete with Panera in the restaurant business for at least one year following the end of his work there, a pact that named Papa John’s among other competitors. When he left, Nettles “removed from Panera’s computer system confidential, proprietary and trade secret information and stored it on his… personal Mac laptop and on Dropbox,” the complaint stated.
Papa John’s defense? They don’t consider Panera a competitive threat and need not benefit from its information technology.
“At Papa John’s, we take great pride in our culture and the talent we attract, and Mike Nettles is no exception,” a statement issued by Papa John’s said. “He is a 27-year veteran of the hospitality and retail industries and has worked at numerous concepts and companies. We are disappointed by Panera’s actions, as we do not consider them a competitive business. We have no need or desire to access Panera’s confidential or proprietary information.”