Tag Archives: United States magistrate judge

Eastern District of New York Holds That Contact List Is Not Entitled to Trade Secret Protection Because Information is Readily Duplicated Through Facebook or LinkedIn

Eastern District of New York Courthouse
Image by Ann Althouse via Flickr

In a sign of the times, District Judge Arthur D. Spatt of the Eastern District of New York adopted the recommendations of Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson who denied a motion for preliminary injunction in a trade secrets misappropriation case involving a customer list.  Sasqua Group, Inc. v. Courtney, No. CV 10-528(ADS)(AKT), 2010 WL 3613855 (E.D.N.Y. 2010 Aug. 2, 2010) (slip op.). The court reasoned that because the information could be properly acquired or readily duplicated through public databases such as Facebook and LinkedIn, the information was not entitled to trade secret protection.  Id. *23.

In sum, Plaintiffs have failed to prove a physical appropriation or copying of confidential information or wrongful disclosure or use of a trade secret. See Leo Silfen, 29 N.Y.2d at 389, 328 N.Y.S.2d at 424, 278 N.E.2d 636. The information in Sasqua’s database concerning the needs of its clients, their preferences, hiring practices, and business strategies, as well as Sasqua’s acquaintance with key decision-makers at those firms may well have been a protectable trade secret in the early years of Sasqua’s existence when greater time, energy and resources may have been necessary to acquire the level of detailed information to build and retain the business relationships at issue here. However, for good or bad, the exponential proliferation of information made available through full-blown use of the Internet and the powerful tools it provides to access such information in 2010 is a very different story. Continue reading

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Central District Issues Rare Opinion Rejecting Stipulated Protective Order

Tire-Euro-Bad
Image via Wikipedia By CHARLES H. JUNG

Magistrate Judge Fernando M. Olguin issued a rare opinion about a stipulated protective order, rejecting the proposed  stipulated order in Murphy v. Continental Tire North America, Inc., No. CV 09-3004 GHK (FMOx), 2010 WL 3260183 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2010).  The court gave six  reasons for the rejection, including the failure to include a good cause statement (citing Makar-Wellbon v. Sony Elecs., Inc., 187 F.R.D. 576, 577 (E.D. Wis. 1999) (even stipulated protective orders require good cause showing)), lack of specificity in the description of the material to be protected (the parties used conclusory terms such as “confidential technical information”), and duration (“once a case proceeds to trial, all of the information that was designated as confidential and/or kept and maintained pursuant to the terms of a protective order becomes public and will be presumptively available to all members of the public, including the press, unless good cause is shown to the district judge in advance of the trial to proceed otherwise”).   Continue reading

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