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No Trade Secret Created Using Delinquent Tax Data
Description Appeals court held that no trade secret had been created, and therefore was not misappropriated by a former employee who used the technique of his former employer of paying delinquent taxes and then bidding on property sold at public auction.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Trade Secret; Misappropriation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts District court held that Finnegan misappropriated a trade secret of his former employer (CARC), regarding how it gathered information about the value of property in the Atlanta area. CARC pays delinquent taxes on property. If the owner does not pay the tax lien, CARC bids on the property at public auction, in an effort to buy property at bargain rates. Finnegan did such work for CARC before he went into competition with it, doing the same thing. Finnegan appealed the judgment against him.
Decision Reversed. The information used by CARC was all public information, but a unique compilation could still be a trade secret. But the gathering of delinquent tax information, paying the taxes, and then bidding on some property at public auction is not a trade secret. There was nothing unique in this practice; "a person experienced in the trade has sufficient time to compile the information from these public sources before the auction."
Citation Capital Asset Research Corp. v. Finnegan, 160 F.3d 683 (11th Cir., 1998)

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