Former Employee Faces Trade Secrets Lawsuit Over Maintaining LinkedIn Contacts
On September 16, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California declined to dismiss a California trade secrets claim against a man who kept his LinkedIn contact information after he was fired and created a rival business (Cellular Accessories for Less, Inc. v. Trinitas LLC). The court wrote that issues of material fact remained as to whether the former employee allowed any of his LinkedIn contacts to see the names of all of his other contacts. The individual worked for plaintiff for approximately six (6) years and created a rival company in the same line of business after his employment was terminated. The former employee argued that he did not violate the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”), Cal. Civil Code § 3426 et seq., by maintaining his LinkedIn contacts because plaintiff encouraged employees to use LinkedIn. The former employee also argued that his contact list was viewable to other contacts. Plaintiff argued defendant could have changed his contact privacy setting and that CUTSA was violated when its former employee emailed himself a digital file that contained information on over 900 businesses, personal contacts, client billing preferences and past pricing requests. Ultimately, the court allowed the company’s trade secrets claim to proceed.