Social Media and IP (Part X): Trade Secret Cases

Christou v. Beatport

Christou owned night clubs, and Bradley was his employee. Bradley’s primary role was to find good DJs and organize events at Christou’s night clubs. By virtue of his role, Bradley had access to the MySpace account of Christou’s night club group. While working with Christou, Bradley founded Beatport and later left his job.

Subsequently, Bradley started a competing night club after a few days. Aggrieved by his actions, Christou sued for trade secret misappropriation among other grounds. After analyzing the facts, the Colarodo Court held that the friends list on MySpace is like a database of business contacts and is protectable as a trade secret. Therefore, the Court concluded that accessing and using information in the MySpace account amounts to trade secret misappropriation. The Court reasoned that though contacts are publicly available, specific data relating to the contacts is not available and such data can form part of a company’s trade secrets.

Invidia v. DiFonzo

DiFonzo was employed with Invidia as a hair stylist between 2010 and 2012. The terms of employment of DiFonzo with Invidia included confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicitation clauses. The confidentiality clause required DiFonzo to maintain secrecy of Invidia’s trade secrets, which included customer lists, pricing information, etc.

In 2012, DiFonzo left Invidia and joined David Paul’s salon. On her joining, David Paul posted on Facebook announcing DiFonzo’s affiliation with his salon. On seeing the announcement, Kaiser posted on Facebook – “See you tomorrow, DiFonzo.” Subsequently she cancelled her appointment with Invidia.

Aggrieved, Invidia sued DiFonzo for solicitation of customers and trade secret misappropriation. After reviewing the facts, the Court held that posting of an announcement does not amount to solicitation. It further pointed out that connecting with clients of Invidia on Facebook as friends does not amount to trade secret misappropriation. Nevertheless, the Court stated that the result would have been different if DiFonzo solicited business from her Facebook friends.

Contributed by Social Media Law Team of BananaIP

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1.Christou et al v. Beatport, LLC et al

2.Invidia, LLC v. DiFonzo, 30 Mass. L. Rep. 390 (Mass. Super. Ct. 2012)

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