Titan victorious in legal battle with C&W Atlanta

ATLANTA: After months of drama, Cohn & Wolfe and upstart Titan

Network last Wednesday settled their lawsuit out of court.

The resulting pro forma agreement falls directly in Titan's favor. It

does not award C&W any monetary damages, nor does it hold Titan

accountable for staff losses C&W incurred when Titan set up shop days

after its founders were terminated from their senior positions at C&W

(PRWeek, January 8).

While the final terms were being drafted at press time, both parties had

agreed to go back to their mutual corners and put the matter behind

them. Titan agreed to standard obligations of not soliciting C&W

clients, not recruiting employees from C&W's Atlanta office and not

using or disclosing confidential information belonging to C&W.

C&W CEO Steve Aiello explained what, if anything, his agency gained with

this settlement. "The remedy is that they cannot solicit or hire any

more employees," he said. Regarding financial reparations, Aiello said

none would be sought "unless they violate this agreement."

By settling in this manner, C&W essentially vindicated Titan of its

claims of gross business violations.

Since the agreement includes a "nondisparagement" clause, neither party

was willing to speak much beyond the terms of the settlement. However,

when asked whether in hindsight he should have disclosed his plans weeks

or months earlier when he was first discussing plans and organizing with

his partners, Tony DeMartino, C&W's ousted CEO and head of the new

network, said: "Earlier is a relative matter. If I had gone to Cohn &

Wolfe and said I was going to resign, what's the difference if I had

done it then or if I had done it earlier?"

Titan's victory may now affect the ease with which employees defect one

company to start up a competitor and raises questions of how an agency

can protect itself from such actions. Atlanta business transaction

attorney George Menden of Menden & Freiman said that although Georgia

courts do not favor nondisclosure and noncompete agreements, they will

uphold them - but only if strictly construed.

"If ten guys want to leave an agency, they are free to do that," Menden

said. "And if there are no (binding) agreements in place, they can

solicit clients and employees. This is America and competition is a good


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