In a case brought by a seller of camouflage clothing against a competitor, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana held recently that just because “something is confidential does not mean it is a trade secret,” and the court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion. Montana Camo, Inc. v. Cabela’s, Inc., Civ. Ac. No. CV-08-71-BLG-RFC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57895 (D. Mont., June 11, 2010).
Montana Camo sued Cabela’s, alleging that Cabela’s violated Montana’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act by misappropriating Montana Camo’s confidential sources of supply, marketing information, patterns, and technical information used in making its products. With respect to the names of Montana Camo’s suppliers, however, the court held that most of the relevant information was readily ascertainable, that Cabela’s had not even used certain of the suppliers, and that Cabela’s began purchasing from one of the suppliers before Montana Camo was formed. Since the customer and dealer identification was available on Montana Camo’s website, it was not secret. The technical information to which Montana Camo claimed proprietary rights was determined to be generally known or otherwise not misappropriated. Finally, the court said that even if the supposedly confidential cost, pricing and marketing information referred to by Montana Camo could ever constitute something other than “nebulous concepts” insufficient to be considered a trade secret, Montana Camo had not detailed it adequately to defeat the summary judgment motion.