by one as his secret. Matters which are completely disclosed by the goods which one markets cannot be his secret."
The fact that individual forms and samples found in the sales materials were compilations of public information does not preclude a finding that the combination of the included elements affords a plaintiff competitive advantage and is not itself in the public domain. See, Rohm and Haas Co. v. Adco Chemical Co., 689 F.2d 424, 433 (3d Cir. 1982); Anaconda, supra, 485 F. Supp. at 422. The combination of information contained in the sales materials reflected market research performed by plaintiff and decisions to include and exclude elements from a larger pool of data. It is this, rather than the data contained in the individual forms known generally among personal injury lawyers, which may contain a sufficient degree of novelty, however slight, to be excluded from general knowledge, and may qualify the sales manual as a trade secret. See, Croydon Plastics, supra, 348 F. Supp. at 812 (slight advance over general knowledge may qualify for trade secret protection).
In addition, Continental took significant precautions to limit the distribution and use of information contained in its sales manuals and the information disclosed to purchasers of its software. Company rules required sales people to obtain approval from Continental's Vice President and assurances of confidential treatment from prospective purchasers before portions of the sale manual were lent to the prospective purchaser. As part of the transaction, the buyer agreed to prevent unauthorized use or dissemination of the software and its manuals. Based on the evidence before me, I am unable to say that the market research information reflected in the selection of output for Continental's software was so freely disseminated that it may not be accorded trade secret status.
The only remaining issue is whether Exxon used the information contained in the sales manual to the detriment of Continental. During the twelve month period following Exxon's introduction of its personal injury application to its records processing software, Continental experienced a significant decline in sales. Exxon used the information acquired from Continental to prepare its personal injury application, but only one customer agreed to purchase from Exxon its personal injury application; it was never delivered.
Continental argues that sales by Exxon of its personal injury application were not necessary to harm Continental. Rather, merely marketing Exxon's personal injury software application, which included information misappropriated from Continental, "increased [Exxon's] credibility with customers in the legal marketplace and decreased Continental's credibility as the sole supplier of the product." Plaintiff's Second Supplemental Memorandum at 14-15. While I foresee substantial difficulties in proving the contention, I believe that plaintiff is entitled to present its evidence on causation.
For the foregoing reasons, I will deny Exxon's motion for summary judgment as to the state law claims presented in this case.
AND NOW, this 10th day of January, 1986, it is hereby Ordered that defendant Exxon's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Summary judgment is GRANTED on Count I of the Second Amended Complaint, and DENIED in all other respects.
Judgment is entered in favor of defendant Exxon and against plaintiff on Count I of the Second Amended Complaint.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.