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CMC ex-worker accused of taking trade secrets

Jan 16, 2014 | 12:22 PM | Lisa Gordon

Tags  Commercial Metals Co, CMC, metal recycler, lawsuit, Nichols Jones, trade secrets, Sims Metal Management, Lisa Gordon

PITTSBURGH — Commercial Metals Co. (CMC) has accused a former employee in its recycling division of copying customer lists and using them after he went to work for a competitor.

The Irving, Texas-based steelmaker and metals recycler has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Missouri against Nicholas Jones alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and unauthorized transmission of confidential information, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and violation of the Missouri Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

Jones was employed at the company’s Joplin, Mo., facility from April 2012 to November 2013, when he left to join Sims Metal Management Ltd., according to court documents. New York-based Sims Metal Management is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Jones’ LinkedIn profile indicates he is an outside commercial buyer focusing on industrial accounts for Sims Metal Management.

CMC alleged that last month Jones contacted multiple nonferrous suppliers with whom the company had done business and offered prices that were similar to what CMC was paying. Jones allegedly called the suppliers on their unlisted cell phone numbers, which were included in CMC’s proprietary information base.

An internal investigation showed that on Nov. 14, while still an employee at CMC, Jones allegedly accessed, downloaded and transferred CMC’s confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets, including customers’ contact information, requirements, the type of scrap metal purchased and the prices paid, according to the lawsuit.

CMC alleged that Nicholas e-mailed a list to his father, who also was a CMC employee, and said it contained "every one of Joplin(’s) price files."

CMC said that on Dec. 17 it issued Jones a cease-and-desist letter from engaging in any conduct that violated CMC’s trade secret rights, and Jones’ attorney responded on Dec. 24 that Jones denied possessing any secrets.

CMC is asking the court to award it an unspecified amount for damages and require Jones to return all of the company’s proprietary information.

Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

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