Bernard J. Fuhs is a Shareholder/Vice President of Butzel and serves on the firm’s Board of Directors. He is a nationally recognized “Bet-the-Company” emergency litigator and expert on non-compete and trade secret matters, having litigated and/or counseled clients on such matters in all 50 states, as well as specializing in franchise litigation and business shareholder disputes. Mr. Fuhs also advises start-up and closely-held businesses, as well as sports and fitness industry members.
Mr. Fuhs has been selected as a Business Litigation, Trade Secret and Franchise Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine (2014-2022) and a Michigan Super Lawyer (an award recognizing no more than 2.5% of lawyers in Michigan) (2013-2022). He was also named to Crain's Detroit Business' 2012 Class of "40 under 40," which honors "the best and brightest in Southeast Michigan who have made their marks in business before age 40,” as well as Oakland County’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2013, which includes young thought leaders and trailblazers who live or work in Oakland County and are under the age of 40.
Recent Case Highlights
- Successfully obtained summary disposition on behalf of a Detroit-based Casino in a $4,000,000 lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court, which was thereafter affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals in Stephen Swirple et. al. v. MGM Grand Detroit, LLC, Case No. 345284, LC No. 17-010953-CZ (February 4, 2020).
- Served as lead litigation counsel in multi-million dollar shareholder oppression action on behalf of minority shareholder client in the importer-distributor of consumer products to big box retailer industry, securing a settlement valued at nearly $8,000,000 for the minority shareholder client.
- Successfully defended trustee client in highly complex and contentious shareholder & probate dispute alleging nearly $13,000,000 in damages arising out of purported shareholder oppression, negotiating dismissal of all $13,000,000 in claims and, instead, payment to trustee client of $750,000.
- National litigation counsel for franchisor in the massage therapy industry, having recently obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions in the Eastern District of Michigan Federal Court against former franchisees in Florida which prohibited them from (1) using the franchisor’s trademarks and (2) otherwise operating a competing entity/business in the restricted territory.
- National litigation counsel for franchisor in the fitness and stretch training industry, having recently obtained immediate cooperation agreements re: non-compete, confidentiality and trademark obligations with franchisees located in Michigan and Florida.
- On behalf of a leading global franchisor engaged in the moving industry, successfully obtained ex parte TRO, preliminary injunction, and ultimately permanent injunction against former franchisee and a direct competitor prohibiting them from operating a moving company within the restricted territory and from otherwise violating their obligations under the Franchise Agreement and related contracts.
- On behalf of a national franchisor operating an insurance sales operating system with agencies in niche insurance markets, successfully obtained permanent injunction order against former franchisee who had operated four (4) locations within Las Vegas, Nevada, which ordered her to comply with her post-termination non-compete obligations under the Franchise Agreements, and thereafter resolved the dispute resulting in the amicable transfer of the locations to the franchisor.
- Successfully defended national forklift distributor in Federal Court in Florida against claims for tortious interference with a non-compete agreement and trade secret theft under the Florida Uniform Trade Secret Act.
- On behalf of a 40-year old Michigan-based company that specializes in premium metalworking fluids, industrial cleaners and corrosion management solutions, successfully obtained a $2,400,000 judgment against a former consultant and his US and Canadian entities in Oakland County Circuit Court relative to claims for breach of contract, tortious interference action and unfair competition.
- On behalf of a leading developer of meteorology software, successfully obtained ex parte TRO, preliminary injunction, and ultimately permanent injunction against former employee and a direct competitor prohibiting them from using or disclosing client's confidential information and trade secrets, disparaging client, developing any product or providing any services involving the use of client's confidential information and trade secrets, and from infringing upon client's copyrights.
- Successfully obtained numerous injunctions on behalf of a Fortune 500 staffing services company against former employees (ranging from regional managers to recruiters) relative to their non-compete, non-solicit, non-disclosure, and trade secret violations.
Speaking Engagements and Publications
- Author, “Protecting Trade Secrets,” Detroiter Magazine, January 5, 2022
- Presenter, “Trade Secrets Law Update,” ICLE On-Demand Webcast, October 2021
- Presenter, “What To Do When Your Company’s Most Valuable Assets Are at Risk,” Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November 2019, Detroit, Michigan
- Author, “Mich. Bill Adds to States’ Trend of Limiting Noncompetes,” Law360, September 13, 2019.
- Presenter, “Hiring the Competition: Proven Strategies to Acquire and Retain Top Talent While Protecting Your Company’s Most Valuable Assets,” Walsh College, May 2019.
- Presenter, “The Secrets to Starting a Successful Business: How to Increase Your Chances of Start-Up Success from Idea to Launch (and Beyond),” Webinar Presented by Butzel Long, January 2019.
- Author, “Calling All Frustrated Minority Shareholders: Are You Being Oppressed?” DBusiness Magazine, December 14, 2018.
- Presenter, “Protecting Your Trade Secrets and Effective Non-Compete Agreements,” Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November 2018, Detroit, Michigan.
- Presenter, “Hiring the Competition: Proven Strategies to Acquire and Retain Top Talent While Protecting Your Company’s Most Valuable Assets,” Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November 2017, Detroit, Michigan.
- Panelist, “Reputation Protection: How to Preserve Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset,” Michigan Business Rap (www.businessrap.biz), September 13, 2017.
- Presenter and Contributing Author, “The Evolving Landscape for Trade Secrets, Non-Competes and Other Restrictive Covenants: Times They Are a Changin’,” ABA Employment Rights & Responsibilities Committee Midwinter Meeting, March 2017, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
- Presenter and Contributing Author, “Strategies on Presenting (and Defending Against) Economic Damages in Employment Discrimination Cases,” 34th Annual National CLE Conference, January 2017, Aspen, Colorado.
- Presenter, “Winning in Overtime: How to Save Money and Protect Your Business by Ensuring Compliance with Wage and Hour Laws,” Webinar Presented by Butzel Long Franchise Specialty Team, December 2016.
- Presenter, “Death by Theft: How to Protect Your Company from Sabotage and Unfair Competition,” Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November 2016, Detroit, Michigan.
- Contributing Author, "Counterclaims and Anti-SLAPP Actions: What Happens When the Tide Turns," ERR Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Sub-Committee of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, March 2016
- Presenter, “Common Evidentiary Issues in Employment Litigation: What Are They, and Best Tactics to Limit Harm and Maximize the Benefit,” 33rd Annual National CLE Conference, January 2016, Vail, Colorado
- Presenter, “Death by Theft: How to Protect Your Company from Sabotage and Unfair Competition While Saving a Few Bucks Along the Way,” MICPA Management Information & Business Show, June 2016, Novi, Michigan
- Presenter, “Death by Theft: How to Protect Your Company from Sabotage and Unfair Competition While Saving a Few Bucks Along the Way,” DBusiness and Butzel Long Webinar, August 2015, Detroit, Michigan.
- Moderator, “Navigating the World of Non-Competes,” ICLE On-Demand Webcast, July 2015, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Organizer/Presenter, “Death by Theft: How to Protect Your Company from Sabotage and Unfair Competition While Saving a Few Bucks Along the Way,” DBusiness and Butzel Long’s Detroit Business Symposium, January 2015, Detroit, Michigan.
- Presenter, “Employee Sabotage?! It Happens. Be Prepared,” Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November, 2014, Dearborn, Michigan.
- Presenter, "The Definitive Non-Compete Agreement," ICLE Labor & Employment Law Institute, April 2014, Plymouth, Michigan
- Presenter, "Trade Secret Protection for the Modern Employer," Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November 2013, Dearborn, Michigan
- Presenter, "Emerging Issues in Non-Competition, Non-Hire, Non-Solicit and Trade Secret Agreements with Employees and Competitors," Original Equipment Supplier Association (OESA), February 2013, Troy, Michigan
- Presenter, "#NicePeopleDOFinishLast: Protecting Your Investment, Ideas and Trade Secrets in the Social Media Age," Macomb-OU INCubator Lunch and Learn Series, December 2012, Sterling Heights, Michigan
- Moderator, "Non-Competes in the Electronic Workplace: Solicitation in the Age of Social Media," ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education, May 2012
- Contributing Author, "Non-Competes in the Electronic Workplace: Solicitation in the Age of Social Media," ERR Committee of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, March 2012
- Co-author, "I Wish They All Could Be California: Why Noncompete Critics Are Singing the Wrong Song," For The Defense - Commercial Litigation, Defense Research Institute (DRI), March 2012
- Presenter, "Nice People DO Finish Last: Protecting Company Trade Secrets in Today's Job Market," Butzel Long Labor & Employment Seminar, November 2011, Dearborn, Michigan
- Presenter, "Non-Compete Agreements and Other Agreements Protecting Key Personnel," Original Equipment Supplier Association (OESA) Commercial Trends and Legal Strategy Conference, October 2011, Troy, Michigan
- Presenter, "Dealing with the Baggage that Travels with Employees Moving from One Financial Services Firm to Another. Trade Secrets, Non-Compete and Insider Trading Issues," Butzel Long Breakfast Briefing, March 2011, New York, New York
- Presenter, "Protecting Your Confidential Information and Business Relationships," Michigan Press Association Annual Convention, January 2011, Detroit, Michigan
- Co-author, "Under Attack: Why the Foes of Non-Compete Agreements Are Firing Blanks," The Voice - Defense Research Institute (DRI) - The Voice of the Defense Bar, Summer 2010
- Co-author, "The Evolution of Personal Jurisdiction through the Technological Advances of Our Time," The Litigation Newsletter - Litigation Section, State Bar of Michigan, Summer 2008
- Co-author, Michigan chapter, "Trade Secrets and Agreements Not to Compete," Defense Research Institute (DRI) Winter 2008
- Contributing Editor to Products Liability Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium, Morton F. Daller, Editor-in-Chief (Aspen Publishers)
- Contributing Editor to Tort Law Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium, Morton F. Daller, Editor-in-Chief (Aspen Publishers)
DBusiness Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit, Business Litigation 2014-2022; Franchise Law, 2016-2022
Michigan Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2013-2022
America’s Top 100 Bet-the-Company Litigators (Michigan) 2022 – Business Litigation, Trade Secret Litigation, and Business Litigation
Crains Detroit Business 40 Under 40, Class of 2012
Oakland County Brooks Patterson Elite 40 under 40 Class of 2013
State Bar of Michigan
American Bar Association - The Forum on Franchising
American Bar Association - ERR Non-Compete and Trade Secret Subcommittee
Leadership Oakland - Class XXIII
University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law Alumni Association - Board of Directors
Detroit Athletic Club
St. Michael’s the Archangel – Head Coach Girl’s Basketball Program
Mr. Fuhs is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 2006) and the University of Detroit Mercy (B.S., summa cum laude, 2003). He interned for Chief Justice Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court; he was a four year player on the Division 1 Men's Basketball team at UDM; President of the 2nd Year Class at UDM School of Law; on Law Review; a member of the Justice Frank Murphy Honor Society; and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Beta Alpha Psi.
Mr. Fuhs also enjoyed many honors as an undergraduate including the following: Captain of 2002/2003 UDM Division 1 Men's Basketball Team; the Wall Street Journal Award - Top Student in the UDM College of Business Administration; the Financial Executives International Award - most outstanding undergraduate student in Accounting and Finance; the Beta Alpha Psi Award - highest scholastic average in undergraduate program; member of the All Horizon League Athletic Academic Team - (2002/2003); the President's and Horizon League Honor Roll all four years; and the William Ebben Award for athletic and academic excellence. He was on the Dean's list all years attended at UDM and UDM School of Law, and received the Cavanaugh scholarship at UDM School of Law.
Primary Practice Areas
University of Detroit Mercy 2003, B.S.
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law 2006, J.D.
- State Bar of Michigan
- American Bar Association - The Forum on Franchising
- Leadership Oakland - Class XXIII
- Macomb-OU INCubator Business Advisory Board
- University of Detroit-Mercy Titan Club - Board of Directors
- Sheriff Oakland County PAL Program – Board of Directors
- Big Head Corps (affiliated with The Parade Company)
Awards & Recognitions
Awards & Recognitions
Brooks' Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2013
DBusiness Top Young Lawyers, 2013
DBusiness Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit, Business Litigation, 2012; Trade Secrets, 2014, 2016-2019, 2022-2023; Franchise Law, 2016-2019, 2022-2023
Michigan Super Lawyers, Rising Star in Business Litigation, 2011-2012
Michigan Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2013-2022
University of Detroit Mercy - Captain of the 2002/2003 UDM Division 1 Men's Basketball Team
UDM - Wall Street Journal Award recipient for recognition as Top Student in the UDM College of Business Administration
UDM - Financial Executives International Award for most outstanding undergraduate student in Accounting and Finance
UDM - Beta Alpha Psi Award for highest scholastic average in an undergraduate program
UDM - All Horizon League Athletic Academic Team, 2002-2003
UDM - President's and Horizon League Honor Roll all four years
UDM - awarded the William Ebben Award for athletic and academic excellence
UDM and UDM School of Law - on the Dean's list all years attended
UDM School of Law - Cavanaugh scholarship recipient
- Inevitable Disclosure / Trade Secret Theft. Brought action against two employees and their new company after they resigned from a Tier-1 automotive supplier to join a competing company, alleging trade secret theft and contract violations
- Breach of Contract. Successfully defended a publicly-traded electronics corporation on a $40 million dollar breach of contract action brought by a private equity firm.
- Represented provider of infrastructure services to the electric utility, gas, power and telecommunications markets in a lawsuit.
- Represented global staffing, employment and recruiting company nationally in trade secret and non-compete matters and obtained injunctions in approximately 70 cases in 2007-2008.
- Non-Compete / Non-Disclosure / Trade Secret Theft. Brought action against former regional vice president employee and his new employer after he resigned from an electrical contracting and engineering resources firm
- Represented provider of infrastructure services to the electric utility, gas, power and telecommunications markets in a lawsuit. We enforced restrictive covenant to the fullest extent and recovered majority of attorney fees.
- Breach of Contract. Successfully defended an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) on a $500,000 breach of contract action brought by a staffing firm, alleging tortious interference with a contract and business relationships with its employees.
- Non-Disclosure / Trade Secret Theft. On behalf of a leading developer of metrology software, brought action against former employee and new employer, alleging trade secret theft, contract violations
News & Events
- Firm News, 11.15.2022
- Firm News, 8.12.2022
- Detroiter Magazine, 1.5.2022
- WJR - 760 AM, 1.7.2020
- DBusiness Magazine, 11.26.2018
- 6.25.2012Butzel Long attorney Bernard J. Fuhs discusses noncompete agreements
- 9.10.2009Butzel Long attorneys file trade secrets case
- Detroit, MI, 11.14.2019
- Webinar, 1.23.2019
- Detroit, MI, 11.29.2018
- Detroit, MI, 11.16.2017
- Detroit, MI, 10.28.2016
- Bloomfield Hills, MI, 6.9.2015
- Detroit, MI, 1.8.2015
Alerts & Publications
- Client Alert, 6.1.2022
- Client Alert, 5.3.2022
- Client Alert, 4.12.2022
- Client Alert, 4.5.2022
- Client Alert, 1.12.2022
- DBusiness, 12.14.2018