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Garrett Popcorn Sues Former Employee For Stealing Top-Secret Recipes

CHICAGO (CBS)--The parent company of Chicago-based Garrett Popcorn is suing a former employee who allegedly stole the company's secret recipes after learning she was about to be fired.

The former employee, Aisha Putnam, worked for CarmelCrisp--the company that operates Garrett Popcorn--for five years as the director of research and development and other roles until she was fired in March. Days before she was fired, Putnam allegedly caught wind of her employer's plans to let her go.

Putnam was one of only three employees who had access to top-secret recipes and other highly-confidential private company information, according to the lawsuit.


CarmelCrisp claims Putnam wiped her work computer clean of private company data and "surreptitiously copied and misappropriated more than 5,400 files containing three gigabytes of information onto a personal USB drive" and took it with her before she was fired.

The former employee is also alleged to have taken proprietary recipes with her that only a few people had access to.

Putnam later declined to comply with a demand from CarmelCrisp's attorneys to allow a forensic review of her personal computer, according to the lawsuit.

"The release of confidential and trade secret information, especially CaramelCrisp's proprietary popcorn formulas, processes and recipes, would be severely detrimental to CaramelCrisp's business," the lawsuit reads. "Any dissemination of such information would cause irreparable harm to CaramelCrisp because once it has been shared there is no way to "undo" the disclosure."

The company is seeking a court order preventing Putnam from using, sharing, or benefiting from CaramelCrisp trade secrets, and to pay for the costs of a forensic expert to make sure she does not keep the stolen files.

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