A prevalent issue arising in business litigation throughout Florida is whether the customer list of a business or employer is a protected trade secret under Fl as a trade secret Florida’s Uniform Trade Secret Act (FUTSA). Trade secrets are broadly defined under FUTSA and include information that “derive[s] economic value from not being readily ascertainable by others and must be the subject of reasonable efforts to protect its secrecy.” Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. v. Dole Foods Co., Inc., 136 F. Supp. 2d 1271 (S.D. Fla. 2001). Florida law considers a business’s customer lists and the information contained therein to be trade secrets subject to protection. Variable Annuity Life Ins. Co. v. Dull, No. 09-80113, 2009 WL 3180498 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 25, 2009). Peter Mavrick is a Fort Lauderdale business litigation attorney, and represents clients in business litigation in Miami, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach. The Mavrick Law Firm represents businesses and their owners in breach of contract litigation and related claims of fraud, non-compete agreement litigation, trade secret litigation, trademark infringement litigation, employment litigation, and other legal disputes in federal and state courts and in arbitration.
FUTSA provides that “a complainant is entitled to recover damages for misappropriation.” Fla. Stat. § 688.004(1). In turn, “misappropriation” is defined as either the “(a) Acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means, or (b) Disclosure or use of a trade secret of another . . .” Fla. Stat. § 688.002(2) (emphasis added). Thus, a plain reading of the statute makes clear that the wrongful acquisition of a trade secret, even without its actual use, constitutes a violation of FUTSA. See H2Ocean v. Schmitt, 2006 WL 1835974 (N.D. Fla. June 30, 2006). A trade secret is misappropriated if it is either acquired via improper means, or if it is disclosed or used by someone without proper consent.
FUTSA permits injunctive relief to redress any actual or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets. Se. Mech. Servs., Inc. v. Brody, 2008 WL 4613046 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 15, 2008). Florida law protects customer lists from misappropriation through injunctive relief. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Silcox, No. 01- 8800, 2001 WL 1200656 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 4, 2001). To prove a violation of FUTSA, a plaintiff must show that it: (1) possessed secret information and took reasonable steps to protect its secrecy and (2) the secret it possessed was misappropriated, either by one who knew or had reason to know that the secret was improperly obtained or by one who used improper means to obtain it. Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. v. Dole Foods Co., Inc., 136 F. Supp. 2d 1271 (S.D. Fla. 2001). Florida courts have held that “documents containing strategic marketing plans and pricing information have been held to constitute trade secrets under Florida law.” VAES Aero Servs. v. Arroyo, 860 F. Supp. 2d 1349, 1359 (S.D. Fla. 2012).