Saturday, May 06, 2006, 5/06/2006 10:12:00 PM

Oil Exploration Reports in Kazakhstan and Trade Secrets

By Todd
Every once in a while federal district courts draft opinions addressing litigation discovery disputes and publish them for everyone to see. One such opinion recently published is in the case of Grynberg v. Total S.A., 2006 WL 1186836 (D. Colo. May 3, 2006). Seems Grynberg is suing Total S.A. over damages from the development, or lack of development, of certain oil wells in Kazakhstan (editors' note: we believe Kazakhstan is somewhere between Russia and China). Grynberg has asked Total S.A. to turn over "well logs, tet results, and well evaluation reports" and Total S.A. has objected, arguing in part that production of the same "would or may contravene contractual confidentiality obligations Total owes to the Republic of Kazakhstan ...."

Note to litigators - when trying to object to discovery requests on "trade secrets" grounds, do NOT use the phrase "would or may contravene ...." It won't work. The party seeking not to dislose information or data or documents on "trade secrets" grounds has the burden of showing that the disclosure would release confidential information or trade secrets and then the court needs to examine the bona fides of that claim and balance the risks and benefits of the same. Using the phrase "would or may contravene. . . . " confidentiality obligations isn't strong enough - ever. And it wasn't in this case either.

Grynberg is going to get access to a good amount of what they are looking for and perhaps the world is about to learn more about what Kazakhstan has to offer in the form of oil reserves. We'll see.

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