In the case of Christou et al. v Beatport LLC et al, the United States District Court for Colorado has ruled that an employer’s MySpace Profile and “Friends” List can qualify as trade secrets.
In this case Regas Christou sued a former employee turned rival nightclub owner, Bradley Roulier for (amongst other things) theft of trade secrets. Chistou alleged that Roulier had misappropriated the login information for the MySpace Profiles of Chirstou’s nightclubs as well as their corresponding MySpace “Friends” Lists.
The Court accepted Christou’s argument that the “Friends” List was more than a list of names but rather it was closer to a database of contact information and stated “The names themselves, readily available to the public are not the important factor. The ancillary information connected to those names cannot be obtained from public directories and is not readily ascertainable from outside sources, and thus this militates in favour of trade secret classification”
This case serves as a reminder to employers to limit access to the company’s social media profiles to only those employees who are responsible for establishing or advancing the company’s online presence. In addition and more importantly, employers should amend their policies, procedures and contracts to clearly indicate that ownership of the contacts listed on the social media accounts rests with the employer.