Tuesday, January 02, 2007, 1/02/2007 04:55:00 PM

Mighty Specific Trade Secrets (Pacer Req'd)

The case of Timm & Associates, Inc. v. Broad, 2006 WL 3759753 (D.Minn. Dec. 21, 2006), presented a standard fact pattern with a legal twist involving trade secrets.

The standard scenario: plaintiff real estate broker sued former employee who left for a competing broker and took some transactions with him. In addition to the usual stuff -- breach of a non-competition agreement, breach of duty of loyalty, intentional interference with contract and diversion of corporate opportunity -- the plaintiff had a trade secrets claim based on one of the transactions at issue, the sale of a Hampton Inn.

Defendant contended that he was entitled to summary judgment on the trade secrets claim because "the sale of the Hampton Inn was public information and cannot be considered a trade secret." The Court agreed that "the fact that the Hampton Inn was for sale was not a trade secret, but [plaintiff] asserts that the identity of the prospective purchaser of the Hampton Inn and the 'stage of the transaction' were trade secrets."

In turn, "[w]hether these were trade secrets primarily hinges on whether [plaintiff] made reasonable efforts to maintain their secrecy." On the record before the court, it could not grant summary judgment on that issue.

Thus, the case involves an unusual trade secrets circumstance involving just one -- completely discrete -- trade secret.

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