Bristol-Myers Squibb, FCB Sue Omnicom, Schulman Over Trade Secrets

A nasty court fight is taking shape in New York between Interpublic’s FCB and its client Bristol-Myers Squibb on one side and a former FCB account manager, Stephanie Shulman and Omnicom Group on the other.

BMS and FCB are suing Schulman -- who left FCB in January for Omnicom to work on a competing pharmaceutical account, Merck. Omnicom is also named as a defendant on a number of counts.

BMS is suing both Schulman and Omnicom for misappropriation of trade secrets. Both plaintiffs have charged Schulman with breach of contract and they have charged Omnicom with tortious interference with contractual rights. FCB has also charged Omnicom with aiding and abetting Schulman’s breach of fiduciary duty.

Before leaving for Omnicom in January, Schulman had been senior vice president at FCB (then Draftfcb) and account manager for BMS. 

In their lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court last month, the plaintiffs alleged Schulman was deeply involved in the marketing of breakthrough anti-cancer drug Yervoy, the first immuno/oncology drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Schulman also worked on a new and related drug, Nivolumab, for which she was preparing launch and branding strategies.

On January 15, while plans were still in the works for the launch of Nivolumab, Schulman resigned, per the suit, telling her bosses at FCB that she was headed to Omnicom for a division called Unified where she would be heading up the oncology division. She was then promptly escorted off the premises.

Given her previous work for BMS at FCB, the plaintiffs said, Schulman should not be allowed to work on competing products at Merck and Omnicom. And, they alleged, she agreed to various confidentiality agreements before leaving FCB.

“Schulman’s position at Omnicom is the mirror image of her role at Draftfcb,” the court complaint states. “She cannot serve in that role without disclosing BMS’s confidential and trade secret information, because Schulman cannot make decisions pertaining to Merck’s directly-competing product without drawing upon her knowledge of BMS’s confidential information and trade secrets. This has caused BMS to suffer irreparable harm.”

An Omnicom rep said the company had no comment on the suit. 

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