In the US, where big retailers dominate the consumer market, industrial secrets can be amongst the most valuable assets of a business and they are definitely one of the most closely guarded. In what sets an interesting precedent, US retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores recently filed a lawsuit against online bookshop Amazon.com and its chief information officer, as well as Drugstore.com and the venture capital firm which funded both operations.
Wal-Mart charged that they violated the Arkansas Trade Secrets Act because they recruited and hired at least 10 Wal-Mart employees with unique and intimate knowledge of the retailer's proprietary data warehousing, distribution and merchandising operation.
The lawsuit asks for an injunction forbidding the plaintiffs from utilising any Wal-Mart systems knowledge or transferring that knowledge to other companies. The combination of these individuals and the job responsibility they held with Wal-Mart would make it inevitable that trade secrets involving our systems and our processes would be revealed," said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.