Stokes O'Brien

San Diego Employee Trade Secret Theft

As noted in the CEBblog on trade secrets, one of the most likely times for actual (or alleged) San Diego employee trade secret theft is when an employee leaves a company.  In her blog, Julie Brooks does a great job informing lawyers and companies of the potential for trade secrets theft when an employee leaves, and recommending the use of a proper exit interview, getting confirmation in writing from the employee (e.g., nondisclosure agreements), and later keeping an eye out for indications of trade secret misappropriation.

In our experience, one of the more likely incidences of alleged San Diego employee trade secret theft concerns customer lists or names.  As noted in our blog post concerning solicitation of a former employer’s customers in California, generally speaking, employees can directly compete with their former employer and solicit its customers.  Former employees can tell those customers they’ve moved on to other employment and welcome their business.  However, the former employee cannot misappropriate (steal) a trade secret customer list.

So, the issue becomes whether the customer names are an actual trade secret and, moreover, whether there is trade secret misappropriation.  Employers can do all they want at the exit interview, but if the information is not a trade secret, or if the employee does not improperly take it, there is little an employer can do.  To make these determinations, a trade secret attorney should review the information and how the information was handled before and after the employee departure.

For more information on either prosecuting or defending a San Diego trade secret lawsuit, contact our trade secret lawyers by email or at 619.535.5151.