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updated 7/29/2010 5:21:22 PM ET 2010-07-29T21:21:22

A food-industry executive armed with the secret to the "nooks and crannies" in Thomas' English muffins can't work for a rival amid a trade-secret lawsuit.

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The U.S. appeals court ruling this week stops Chris Botticella of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., from moving to rival Hostess. A U.S. district judge had already ruled he couldn't jump ship.

Thomas' parent company, Bimbo Bakeries, says he is one of just seven people who knows its English muffin secrets. Bimbo says Botticella worked for it for months after accepting a Hostess job in Houston.

Bimbo sued to stop the move, fearing he would divulge trade secrets.

Courts must balance a company's right to guard trade secrets against an employee's right to switch jobs.

In this case, the appeals court says Botticella can be banned from Hostess while the lawsuit plays out.

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