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The Supreme Court of Wisconsin concludes that Wis. Stat. § 134.90(6)(a) (2003-04) does not preclude all other civil remedies based on the misappropriation of confidential information if the information is not defined as a trade secret under § 134.90(1)(c). Accordingly, § 134.90(6)(b)2 permits civil tort remedies based on the misappropriation of confidential information.
Larry Sokolowski was employed in Burbank Grease Services, LLC. During his employment with Burbank, he obtained confidential information from Burbank's computer system, to wit: (1) a hardcopy of a list of Burbank's grease trap customers, containing about 2,400 names, phone numbers and addresses, contact persons, total gallons for each grease trap, and pricing Burbank had applied to each customer; (2) a spreadsheet of Burbank's industrial clients that showed the amount of grease collected from each customer times the market rate less a processing fee, which determined what Burbank would pay the customer for the material collected; and (3) a computerized spreadsheet showing the amount of collections and revenues per customer for certain drivers, organized by the driver's route. Sokolowski subsequently resigned from Burbank and signed an employment agreement with United Liquid Waste Recycling, Inc., Burbank’s competitor. Sokolowski had Burbank's confidential information entered into United Liquid's computer system. Sokolowski used this confidential information to solicit customers for United Grease. When Burbank became aware that Sokolowski was soliciting its customers, it filed an action alleging that Sokolowski misappropriated Burbank's trade secrets in violation of Wis. Stat. § 134.90. Both parties filed for motions for summary judgment. The circuit court granted the defendants’ motion and dismissed the complaint. The circuit court concluded that Burbank's confidential information was not protected by Wis. Stat. § 134.90(6), the trade secret statute, because the information did not meet the statutory definition of a trade secret. The circuit court also concluded that by enacting § 134.90(6), all common law tort claims based on the misappropriation of confidential information were precluded, except those that involved information that met the statutory definition of a trade secret. Burbank appealed.
Did § 134.90(6) preclude common law tort claims based on the misappropriation of confidential information which fell outside the statutory definition of a trade secret?
On appeal, the court held that the trial court erred in dismissing the Burbank's claim under Wis. Stat. § 134.90 because § 134.90(6) did not preclude all other civil actions based on the misappropriation of confidential information that fell outside the statutory definition of a trade secret. Rather § 134.90(6)(b)2 provided that § 134.90(6) did not affect any civil remedy not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret.