It’s long been the law in Texas that an employee can, while still employed, prepare to compete with his employer, as long as he doesn’t actually do so. If he does compete with his employer, he can be found liable for breach of fiduciary duty. In a recent case decided by the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court explained the reason for the preparation vs. competing distinction:
In general, an employee or other agent who plans to compete with the principal does not have a duty to disclose this fact to the principal. To be sure, the fact that an agent has such a plan is information that a principal would find useful, but the agent's fiduciary duty to the principal does not oblige the agent to make such disclosure. . . . In this respect, the social benefits of furthering competition outweigh the principal's interest in full disclosure by its agents.
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