Social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn have grown tremendously over the past decade, and today they claim over 200 million users between the three services. A great number of smaller social networks have also appeared, and new services are constantly being created. With the vast growth of social networking has come the use of social networking in business. As businesses have sought to exploit the wealth of information that social network users share over these networks, businesses have encountered the problem of protecting the compilations of information they have produced. The problem became clear in 2008 when a British recruitment company filed suit against a former employee who allegedly took advantage of information on a social network to start a competing company.
This Note examines the history of trade secret protections in the United States. It begins by examining various bodies of law that are used to protect trade secrets, such as the Restatement of Torts, the Uniform Trade Secret Act, the Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition, and contract law, including nondisclosure and noncompetition agreements. The Note then compares traditional customer list cases to issues that arise when customer lists exist in or are compiled from an online social network. Finally, this Note suggests that courts should extend existing trade secret protections to online client lists and detailed lists compiled from social networking data, while retaining employee protections that are present in current bodies of law.
Brian V. Wyk,
We're Friends, Right? Client List Misappropriation and Online Social Networking in the Workplace,
11 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/jetlaw/vol11/iss3/7