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Leo Silfen, Inc. v. Cream

Court of Appeals of New York
278 N.E.2d 636 (1972)


Leo Silfen, Inc. (Silfen) (plaintiff) sold industrial supplies. In 1949, Silfen hired Cream (defendant) to develop a chemical-supply division. At Silfen, Cream painstakingly built a customer base. Silfen maintained customer profiles and kept the profiles protected, requiring employees to sign confidentiality agreements. After nearly 20 years with Silfen, Cream was fired. Cream started his own company and solicited some of Silfen’s customers. Silfen sued Cream, alleging Cream’s misappropriation of trade secrets in the form of Silfen’s customers. Silfen submitted a list of 1,100 customers, and Cream admitted to soliciting 47 of them. Cream argued that the 47 customers he solicited were well-known companies openly engaged in the industrial-supply business. The court found that Silfen’s customer list was a protectable trade secret and enjoined Cream from doing business with those customers.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Breitel, J.)

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