Kenneth J. Vanko


P: (630) 871-2609
F: (630) 871-9869

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Twitter: @KenVanko

Mr. Vanko’s practice focuses on competition litigation, particularly in the areas of restrictive covenants, trade secret misappropriation, employee raiding, fiduciary duty compliance, partnership dissolution and dissociation, deceptive trade practices, and shareholder direct and derivative actions relating to deadlock, oppression and freeze-outs.

Mr. Vanko counsels and advises employees, executives and business owners on issues pertaining to competitive business transitions in a wide range of industries.  He strives to address potential transition disputes early to avoid and manage risk from an optimal position.

Mr. Vanko also coordinates and manages the firm’s chancery litigation practice and has extensive experience prosecuting and defending proceedings for injunctions and other equitable relief in state and federal courts. Finally, he drafts and negotiates contracts related to employment, professional services, licensing, distribution, and intellectual property protection.


Mr. Vanko joined Clingen Callow & McLean in 2001.  His broad experience includes:

  • Obtained several preliminary injunctions in restrictive covenant disputes on behalf of publicly-traded industrial supplier against two former sales agents
  • Successfully defended and obtained summary judgment on all claims in trade secrets and non-compete case against multiple defendants in the construction labor staffing industry, affirmed on appeal at Tradesmen Int'l v. Black, 724 F.3d 1004 (7th Cir. 2013)
  • Successfully defended and obtained summary judgment on $5 million trade secrets dispute involving retail insurance brokerage industry, excluding all expert testimony related to lost profits and royalty damages
  • Successfully tried to final judgment a shareholder dissolution complaint in Champaign County, Illinois, also obtaining in that case a sanctions judgment against the defendant shareholder of over $123,000
  • Achieved complete defense judgment and obtained attorneys’ fees from plaintiff in non-competition dispute involving auto glass service business
  • Served as lead appellate counsel for privately-held business which successfully dismissed wrongful termination claim on grounds that employee did not establish corporate successor liability
  • Obtained jury verdict in favor of technology services firm against multiple employees for misappropriation of corporate opportunity, including award of punitive damages
  • Prevailed on appeal for defendant in marriage dissolution case, where spouse sought indemnity of legal fees in employment dispute
  • Second-chaired trial in Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois to successful jury verdict for plaintiff on claim involving breach of executive employment agreement
  • Coordinated defense of public university in defense of class action employment discrimination case and obtained summary judgment for university on all claims
  • Obtained complete dismissal of vertical non-competition claims brought by print brokerage company against manufacturer of adhesive labels
  • Secured full dismissal of employee non-competition claim brought by office equipment manufacturer against designer and salesperson
  • Obtained temporary restraining order against former executive for misappropriation of company assets and commercial bribery, resulting in favorable seven-figure settlement and incarceration of defendant through separate criminal proceedings
  • Obtained temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction for commercial landlord against business tenant for creating public and private nuisance
  • Successfully defended temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction proceedings for mortgage brokers arising out of non-compete and trade secret claims, also obtaining judgment for wrongful issuance of ex parte TRO
  • Acted as lead counsel for national technology company to obtain temporary restraining order against former employee who posed threats of violence to co-workers and who interfered with customer relationships, resulting in final judgment against defendant
  • Obtained defense judgment for defendant accused of violating federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
  • Negotiated departure of high-level corporate executives faced with threatened litigation over “inevitable disclosure” of trade secrets in insurance brokerage, high-frequency trading, banking and wireless services industries
  • Successfully defended and obtained dismissal of deceptive trade practices act claim on grounds of copyright preemption
  • Negotiated favorable settlements in federal Lanham Act cases for both plaintiffs and defendants
  • Secured numerous stipulations to dismiss after discovery in federal cases for defendants in cases involving trademark infringement, trade secrets misappropriation, and common-law business torts

Practice includes representation of clients before Illinois Department of Employment Security Board of Review, State of Illinois Department of Insurance, and United States Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.

Before joining the firm in 2001, Mr. Vanko was an associate in the chancery litigation practice at Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, Illinois.

Publication & Seminars

Mr. Vanko publishes a national blog dedicated to the law concerning restrictive covenants and other unfair competition claims, which can be found at He also has authored articles on employment restrictive covenants and other business law topics in The DePaul University Business and Commercial Law JournalIllinois Bar Journal, and local bar association publications.  He frequently lectures on competition law topics and is an active member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association's Trade Secrets Committe.


I have been privileged to work with many great business clients and advise them on a challenging, difficult area of the Law.  I believe in working collaboratively with our clients to understand fully the goals that are most important to them.  Responsiveness, accurate advice and a thorough understanding of our clients’ issues – both from a business and legal perspective – are the hallmarks of my practice.

Practice Areas

Labor & Employment

Trade Secrets


Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, 1997
University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Illinois

Bachelor of Science, in Business Administration, cum laude, 1994

The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Honors & Awards

The Ohio State University, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma Honorary Fraternity

While in law school he was the Editor of the 1997 Moot Court Board and Associate Editor of the University of Illinois Law Review.