E. I. du Pont de Nemours Powder Co. v. Masland

244 U.S. 100, 37 S. Ct. 575 (1917)

 

RULE:

The work property as applied to trademarks and trade secrets is an unanalyzed expression of certain secondary consequences of the primary fact that the law makes some rudimentary requirements of good faith.

FACTS:

Plaintiff corporations sued defendant ex-employee to prevent him from using, or disclosing, certain alleged trade secrets, which defendant obtained as a former employee of plaintiffs'. Defendant sought to disclose the alleged secrets to his experts for the purpose of establishing a defense. Holding that the confidentiality and trust reposed in defendant was paramount to his right to consult the experts, the United States Supreme Court reversed because his duty to keep plaintiff corporations' alleged trade secrets in confidence was paramount to the preparation of a defense by disclosing those facts to experts. 

ISSUE:

Does the trial court have the discretion to determine whether, to whom, and under what precautions, information could be disclosed?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The Court held that while plaintiffs' trade secrets might be illusory, defendant's duty of confidentiality was not. The Court held that the work property, as applied to trademarks and trade secrets, was an unanalyzed expression of certain secondary consequences of the primary fact that the law has some rudimentary requirements of good faith. The Court held that, in obtaining the information, defendant was obligated to take the burden with the good. The Court held that it was in the trial court's discretion, should it become necessary to reveal the secrets to others, to determine whether, to whom, and under what precautions, the revelation should be made.

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