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Document Type

Note

Publication Date

5-2002

Publication Citation

54 Federal Communications Law Journal 517 (2002)

Abstract

The information revolution has led to technological innovations in the movement, storage, and dissemination of information. The Internet allows a person, with good or bad intent, to distribute information to millions of people. This ability raises serious implications when trade secret information is the subject of Internet postings. Once a trade secret becomes publicly available, it loses its legal secrecy, and special legal protection. Additionally, competitors and everyone else on the Internet can gain access to the information. For those who rely on trade secret protection to guard their inventions, this presents a growing concern.

This Note will illustrate the void in trade secret protection arising from the conflicting goals of trade secret law and the First Amendment. This void has allowed third parties to post trade secret information, often procured through inappropriate means or in violation of a duty to maintain secrecy. Part II of the Note sets out the basic frameworks of trade secret and First Amendment law as they apply in these circumstances. Part III examines both sides of this conflict, including the means of resolution used in cases like Ford Motor Co. v. Lane. Part IV explains why injunctive relief should be permitted in trade secret cases when a third party has obtained information from an employee, in violation of a duty of confidentiality. This Note concludes that, because of the gap that has emerged in trade secret protection, courts should begin to allow trade secret owners injunctive relief. This relief will mitigate damages when third parties have, through inappropriate means or an employee's wrongful disclosures, obtained confidential trade secret information.

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