A Customer List Is a Trade Secret If It Meets Requirements In Illinois Trade Secrets Act
In Elmer Miller, Inc. v. Landis, 253 Ill. App. 3d 129, 134, 625 N.E.2d 338, 192 Ill. Dec. 378 (1993), the plaintiff, a custom tailoring business, contended its list of over 500 active and repeat customers was a trade secret.
The court found the list met the ITSA's (Illinois Trade Secrets Act) first requirement due to the significant efforts and expense required to duplicate the list:
"Using a telephone directory, one can easily achieve moderate success in finding restaurants or businesses that need cleaning services or office support.
The custom tailoring business caters to a far larger pool of individuals with more particular needs.
The difficulty of developing a cadre of over 500 active, repeat customers for tailored shirts and suits should not be underestimated." Elmer Miller, 253 Ill. App. 3d at 134.
The plaintiff also met the second requirement because the customer information was kept in a closed file drawer and salespeople had limited access to it.
Salespeople were informed that the customer list was confidential when they joined and left the company. Elmer Miller, 253 Ill. App. 3d at 134.
After satisfying both statutory requirements, the court found the list was a trade secret.