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Officials at Semco , Inc., believed that some of their most important computer files, which they characterized as trade secrets, had been appropriated by Terry Hildreth , a former vice president of Semco . Semco officials accused Hildreth of using these programs to run his new li m ited liability company, Hildreth Manufacturing, LLC. Semco engaged in a series of harassing ta c tics d e signed to stop Hildreth's use of the alleged trade secrets. To pr o tect himself and his new firm, Hildreth brought a lawsuit asking for a declar a tory judgment that no trade secrets had been taken, despite Semco's allegations to the contrary. Semco then brought a second lawsuit a lleging, among other things, that trade secrets had indeed been mi s appropriated by Hildreth .
After the suits were d e- cided in favor of Hildreth , the results were appealed. During both suits, the following facts came to light: Material that described the manufacturing steps that Semco now claimed were trade secrets had been routinely made available to vendors.
Semco also regularly provided information about its "secret" manufacturing processes to people outside the company. Semco did not require employees to file nondisclosure or secrecy agreements.
Visitors were not screened, the building was locked only after regular business hours, and the plant was open for public tours. On the basis of these facts, how should the appeals court rule on the issue of trade secrets? Explain.
Hildreth Mfg., LLC. v. Semco, Inc., 151 Ohio App. 3d 693.