The Fourth Circuit Takes Up Appeal Involving the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

In an appeal involving a count for misappropriation of trade secrets under the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“MUTSA”), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit confronted the issue of what constitutes a trade secret under the MUTSA.  The Maryland district court had found that certain flowcharts created by an employee before he left his employer (allegedly with the flowcharts) were not trade secrets because the flowcharts contained widely available public information.  The Fourth Circuit disagreed, finding that although each piece of data contained in the flowcharts was in the public domain, the trade secret subsisted in the “painstaking, expert arrangement” of the data by the employer.  Further, the employer took reasonable efforts to maintain the secrecy of the trade secret by requiring employees to sign confidentiality agreements, installing monitoring software on employees’ computers, and limiting access to the flowcharts.  The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded the claim to the district court to determine whether the employee had misappropriate the trade secrets.  Airfacts, Inc. v. Amerzaga, No. 17-2092, 2018 WL 6051419 (4th Cir. Nov. 20, 2018).