In addition to academic work, I have done private work in industry that is directly related to the material I'm presenting. For one of my lessons, I would like to do a case study, where I take a problem posed by one of my clients and discuss the thought process and methodology I utilized to solve the problem.
For the case study, I do not intend to reference the company name (instead referring to them as "Company X"). I intended to keep the industry and solution mostly the same, although I would not present or divulge any source code from the deliverable or data from the actual company.
My concern is that the technology I developed for the company may be considered proprietary or a trade secret by the company. While I wouldn't be presenting enough for someone to identify the client or exactly how I solved the problem, I fear that I may no longer have the right to present on this information without explicit permission from the former client.
To enumerate, my question has the following facets:
Do I have an ethical or legal obligation (in the United States) to ask the former client's permission before doing an anonymized case study, even if none of their data or my deliverable is presented?
Is there any standard or rule of thumb for using personal real-world examples in an academic setting while respecting a company's right to maintain trade secrets?
To clarify, there was no NDA/Intellectual Property transfer document or other legal document that could complicate the situation. The work was performed as a independent contractor in the United States.