Court Requires Identification of Trade Secrets

August 23, 2012

Plaintiff sells software to the financial industry. It sued a former employee and his new employer for stealing plaintiff's secret computer source code. The issue before the court centered on whether or not plaintiff had to specifically identify the secret information that it claimed its former employee had stolen. Defendants maintained that identification was necessary so that the exact information allegedly stolen could be examined to determine whether or not it was a true secret or just general knowledge that the employee had learned. Plaintiff argued that the information was secret and defendant's employment allowed him to learn those secrets while at plainitff and use that information at his new employer.

The court held that defendants did not need to guess the secrets plaintiff claimed were stolen, so that plaintiff had to identify them. This allowed defendants to examine the information and argue that some or all were not true secrets. Additionally, without this disclosure, it would be impossible to discern which of plaintiff's secrets the new employer was using and concerning which plaintiff could legitimately object.