Illinois Court Holds That Information About Customers’ Needs and Requirements When Selling Ordinary Goods May Not Be Considered a Trade Secret
For the purposes of determining trade secret protection, an Illinois Court has held that information about customers’ needs and requirements may have a different status under the law that depends on whether the business sells goods or if the business provides a service. Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc. v. Chiquita Brands International Inc., 616 F.Supp.2d 805 (2009).
Courts are more likely to deem information about customers’ needs and requirements a trade secret when the business provides professional services. See id. Under these circumstances, customers maintain trust in a particular seller, and that trust is a valuable business asset created by years of management that the employee is not likely allowed to take with him. See id.
However, information about customers’ needs and requirements generally may not be considered a trade secret when dealing with the selling of ordinary goods. See id. The current price and quality, rather than a past investment in meeting customers needs, are the decisive factors in the continued success of the business, and they are not appropriated by the departing employee. See id.
Informational Purposes Only: The content of this writing was prepared by Tamari & Blumenthal, LLC for informational purposes only. The content of this writing is not intended to constitute and does not constitute legal advice. Reading the content of this writing or communicating with our office staff or attorneys by telephone, fax or e-mail does not make you a client of Tamari & Blumenthal, LLC. To become a client, you must sign and return our governing engagement agreement. Persons reading the content of this writing should not act upon this information without contacting and speaking with an attorney. Do not issue or provide us with confidential information until an attorney-client relationship has been formally established with our firm.
About Tamari & Blumenthal, LLC: Tamari & Blumenthal, LLC is a Chicago-based business litigation and business law firm. The law firm represents clients in a broad range of business disputes. Attorneys Walid J. Tamari and Grant Blumenthal are the law firm’s co-managing partners.