Does Downloading and Copying Data from Employer's Limited Access Server Before Resigning Amount to Misappropriation of Trade Secrets ?
In RKI, Inc. v. Grimes, 177 F. Supp. 2d 859, 875 (N.D. Ill. 2001) the defendant Steven Grimes agreed to work for the plaintiff's (his employer) competitor before resigning.
Two days before he resigned, he used his password to download 60 megabytes of data from the plaintiff's limited access server to his home computer. RKI, 177 F. Supp. 2d at 868.
While working for the plaintiff, Grimes signed an employment agreement, which stated he would not disclose his employer's proprietary information.
His employee handbook also contained a provision describing the confidential nature of the company's files and information. RKI, 177 F. Supp. 2d at 866-67.
At some point after the plaintiff filed its complaint, Grimes deleted the information he had downloaded and defragmented his computer in a effort to prevent the plaintiff from discovering his actions.
Based on direct and "strong" circumstantial evidence, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found Grimes improperly acquired the trade secrets by downloading and copying the data for purposes other than serving his employer. RKI, 177 F. Supp. 2d at 875.
Grimes misappropriated trade secrets under section 2(b)(1) of the ITSA (765 ILCS 1065/2(b)(1) (West 2002)). RKI, 177 F. Supp. 2d at 875;
See also LeJeune v. Coin Acceptors, Inc., 381 Md. 288, 313-315, 849 A.2d 451 (Md. 2004) (misappropriation by "improper means" acquisition where employee copied his employer's computer files to a CD for personal use before resigning).