The Right to Confidentiality

Trade Secrets, Agreements Against Competition, and Other Devices to Protect Confidential Information
  • Jonathan T. Hyman


According to a 2012 survey, 79% of Americans believe that removing confidential files from the office is grounds for termination. Yet 90% of employees think that their brethren do it anyway.


Confidential Information Trade Secret Business Contact Twitter Account Continue Employment 


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  1. 1.
    File Trek, “FileTrek Survey: 90% of American Adults Believe People Share Company Confidential Information Outside the Company,”, March 20, 2012.
  2. 2.
    See, e.g., O.R.C. § 1333.61 (D)(1)–(2).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, e.g., Tewari De-Ox Systems v. Mountain States/Rosen, 637 F.3d 604 (5th Cir. 2011).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Compare Home Pride Foods, Inc. v. Johnson, 634 N.W.2d 774 (Neb. 2001) (customer list, which contained information on customers who previously placed orders and the amounts of those orders, was a “trade secret”), and ATC Distribution Group, Inc. v. Whatever It Takes Transmissions & Parts, 402 F.3d 700 (6th Cir. 2005) (customer lists were not trade secrets, because the names of customers could have been discovered from telephone book or similar legitimate sources).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Compare Amoco Production Co. v. Laird, 622 N.E.2d 912, 920–21 (Ind. 1993) (business plan for drilling based on information developed by sophisticated technology is a trade secret) and Care v. Service Systems Enterprises, Inc., 982 F.2d 1063, 1071–75 (7th Cir. 1992) (marketing and service strategy was not a trade secret, as it was either sufficiently obvious or easily duplicated).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Vermont Microsystems, Inc. v. Autodesk, Inc., 88 F.3d 142 (2nd Cir. 1996) (protecting computer architecture and algorithms).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See, e.g., See Liberty Am. Ins. Group, Inc. v. Westpoint Underwriters, L.L.C., 199 F. Supp. 2d 1271, 1302 (M.D. Fla. 2001) (concluding that the plaintiff’s insurance rating software, including its source code, qualified as a protected trade secret).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Case No. 25093, 2010-Ohio-3388 (Ohio Ct. App. July 21, 2010).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See, e.g., Klick v. Crosstown State Bank of Ham Lake, 372 N.W.2d 85 (Minn. Ct. App. 1985).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Case No. 23875, 2011-Ohio-388 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 28, 2011).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
    See Procter & Gamble Co. v. Stoneham, 747 NE 2d 268 (Ohio Ct. App. 2000).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See Medtronic, Inc. v. Advanced Bionics Corp., 630 N.W.2d 438 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See Picker Intern., Inc. v. Blanton, 756 F. Supp. 971 (N.D. Tex. 1990).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Black’s Law Dictionary 306 (6th ed. 1990).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    AK Steel Corp. v. Earley, 809 F.Supp.2d 1326, 1340 (S.D. Ala. 2011).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Staffilino Chevrolet, Inc. v. Balk, 813 N.E.2d 940, 951 (Ohio Ct. App. 2004).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    These facts are taken from PhoneDog v. Kravitz, Case No. C 11-03474 MEJ, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129229 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2011).Google Scholar

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© Jonathan T. Hyman 2012

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  • Jonathan T. Hyman

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