CUSTOMER LISTS AND TRADE SECRETS
We defend employees in non-competition cases filed by their former employers. In many of these cases, the employer asserts that our client has taken a “customer list” from the employer and is using that list to illegally compete with the former employer. The employer sometimes even argues that the “customer list” is a “trade secret.”
Virginia law recognizes that trade secrets exist and must be protected. The Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Va. Code Sections 59.1-336 to -343) provides a very vague definition of just what actually constitutes a “trade secret” but Virginia courts have held that trade secrets may include customer lists, pricing information, business leads, sales techniques and methods of conducting business.
My take: Consult with a knowledgeable attorney before you leave your current employer if you have signed a non-compete agreement – you may just prevent some serious headaches.