Law School Case Brief
Stampede Tool Warehouse, Inc. v. May - 272 Ill. App. 3d 580, 209 Ill. Dec. 281, 651 N.E.2d 209 (1995)
Under the Illinois Trade Secrets Act, there are two requirements to consider: (1) whether the customer list is sufficiently secret to derive economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and (2) whether the customer list is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy or confidentiality.
Former employees sought review of permanent injunctions under the Illinois Trade Secrets Act (ITSA). The former employees asserted that the trial court erred when it found that the corporation's customer list was protectable as a trade secret under ITSA, and the scope and time of the permanent injunctions were overbroad. The former employees contended that the customer list was not protectable under the ITSA because it could be duplicated by anyone willing to solicit end users from the telephone book or other directories in order to get the names of their tool suppliers. The former employees contended that there were no physical takings of the list because it was committed to memory.
Was the corporation’s customer list a protectable trade secret under the Illinois Trade Secrets Act?
The court determined that the record demonstrated that the customer list was a trade secret. The court also determined that the permanent injunctions were overbroad in duration but not in scope. The actual misappropriation of the trade secret information was established because the employees intentionally copied or memorized the customer list. The ITSA does not require a plaintiff to prove actual theft or conversion of physical documents embodying the trade secret information. The court concluded that there was substantial evidence that defendants misappropriated the customer list either through copying down names or through memorization. The court affirmed the lower court's finding that the corporation's customer list was a trade secret and reversed and modified the granting of permanent injunctions. The court also remanded the case with directions.
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