Deere & Co. has filed a federal lawsuit against a former sales branch manager for its southeast and south central region, which includes Illinois, who left the company earlier this month for a competitor.

According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court, Rock Island, Bill Hurley was a Deere employee for 21 years. He resigned Oct. 2 after participating in a series of high-level, strategic and tactical meetings.

Three days after his departure, Hurley allegedly went to work for AGCO Corp., one of Deere's primary competitors, the suit states. He took a position with the Duluth, Ga.-based company that "overlapped" his duties at Deere as a director of marketing, the suit claims.

Deere claims in its suit that Hurley was responsible for "implementing and safeguarding detailed, competitively sensitive and highly confidential information about Deere, its products, strategy, pricing, the industry and, most importantly, how to execute Deere's strategic and tactical plans."

According to Deere, Hurley signed a confidentiality agreement with the company at the beginning of his employment and agreed he would not release any trade secrets or confidential information after leaving the company.

In his new position, it is not possible for Hurley to avoid disclosing trade secrets and confidential and proprietary information. the suit claims.

Hurley, a resident of Atlanta, was a sales branch manager for Deere's south central branch in Lenexa, Kan., the suit adds. The branch oversees Illinois, New Mexico, eastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, western Mississippi and Missouri. Before June, he oversaw Deere's Atlanta branch.

The suit asks the court to permanently restrain Hurley from working for AGCO Corp. for 18 months, to restrict him from disclosing Deere's confidential information and trade secrets, and to award Deere other relief the court deems appropriate.

Efforts to reach Hurley and AGCO Corp. for comment were unsuccessful.