Sunday, March 3, 2013

Customer Lists may be Trade Secrets

Is an employer’s list of customers a trade secret?

“Under Texas law, customer lists may be protected as trade secrets.  But a customer list of readily ascertainable names and addresses will not be protected as a trade secret.  Texas courts consider three factors to determine whether a customer list is a trade secret: (1) what steps, if any, an employer has taken to maintain the confidentiality of a customer list; (2) whether a departing employee acknowledges that the customer list is confidential; and (3) whether the content of the list is readily ascertainable.  In considering whether information was readily ascertainable, courts have considered the expense of compiling it.  Other Texas courts focus on the method used to acquire the customer information.  Even if the information is readily available in the industry, it will be protected if the competitor obtained it working for the former employer.”  Alliantgroup, L.P. v. Feingold, 803 F. Supp. 2d 610, 625-26 (S.D. Tex. 2011)(citations omitted); see also Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F.Supp.2d 598, 667 (S.D. Tex. 2010).

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