SW Legal studies in Business

Memorized Client List Is Trade Secret
Description

Ohio high court held that an employee who used memorized information from his past employment to compete with his former employer in his new employment by contacting clients violated the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words

Trade Secret, Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Client List, Memory

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Martin worked for AMA, an actuarial firm that designs and administers retirement plans and has several pension analysts who work with their 500 clients. The client list is confidential. Martin was a pension analyst for five years before he quit. He did not sign an employment contract or a non-compete agreement. When he left, he set up a competing firm and successfully solicited 15 AMA clients based on information of who they were from his memory. AMA sued for violation of the Ohio Trade Secrets Act. The trial court awarded AMA $25,973 in damages for fees that it would have earned from the clients who departed, but the court did not issue an injunction against Martin. Martin appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Information that is a trade secret does not lose its character as a trade secret if it has been memorized. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act protects the information, regardless of the manner, mode, or form in which it is stored, whether on paper, in a computer, or in one’s memory. The client list was protected information improperly exploited by Martin.

Citation Al Minor & Assoc. v. Martin, 881 N.E.2d 850 (Sup. Ct., Ohio, 2008)

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