Friday, January 06, 2006, 1/06/2006 07:55:00 AM

California Court Bars Publication of Trade Secrets

From the Associated Press: Into the already volatile conflict between trade secrets and public records law, a California court has lobbed in the First Amendment and prior restraint. A San Diego Superior Court issued an ex parte temporary order barring the San Diego Reader, a free weekly, from publishing details about a synthetic blood substitute product being developed and tested by Northfield Laboratories Inc. of Evanston, Illinois on the grounds that the information in question constituted trade secrets.

In the lawsuit, the company said it "would lose considerable competitive advantage gained at the expense of 20 years of research and development" if its trade secrets were disclosed.

The paper had obtained the information from a local hospital at which trials of the product were being conducted.

Orders forbidding publication – so called "prior restraints" – are extremely rare and disfavored by courts attuned to First Amendment considerations. Expect this order not to be the last one issued in this case.

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