Posted by Sequel on April 10, 2014
Topic: blogs, Trade Secrets
Tags: Client lists
Nebraska Court Puts Client List Protection Under a Cloud

A court in Nebraska has ruled that a client list that contains only data that could be obtained from other public sources may not be protected as a trade secret. The ruling, if adopted more broadly in other jurisdictions, could undo a long tradition of treating such lists as legitimate trade secret information.

In First Express Services Group Inc. v. Arlene A. Easter, et al, the Nebraska Supreme Court found  that the client list an insurance agent took with her when she resigned from the agency could not be considered a trade secret because the information on the list was available from other sources.

Defendant/Appellant Easter had originally claimed that she took the list with her when she resigned only so she would have a means of tracking future commissions due. But some time later, she joined a competing firm in which her son was engaged and began soliciting her old clients to move their policies to the new agency.

Easter claimed that the information on the client list, including customer names, contact information and insurance information was not a trade secret because that information was available from other sources.

The Court agreed, stating that “because the customers’ identities and contact information were ascertainable from public sources, and because the other information on the list was also ascertainable by proper means, the customer list was not a trade secret.”

 

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