Saturday, August 04, 2007, 8/04/2007 08:48:00 AM

Sweet Trade Secrets

From the Mobile Register, a story about a bitter lawsuit between the sugar industry (specifically the Sugar Association) and McNeil-PPC and McNeil Nutritionals LLC, makers of the sweetener Splenda. The Association claims that Splenda's slogan, "made from sugar so it tastes like sugar," is false and misleading. McNeil counterclaims that the Association is running a smear campaign.

And the trade secrets? Well, those are claimed by Splenda's manufacturer, Tate & Lyle, a British company with a manufacturing facility in tiny McIntosh, Alabama.

The Association wants to get into the plant to inspect and videotape the process. Tate & Lyle, understandably, isn't keen on this, as the British say.

According to the story, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Cassady said that he would make his decision after reviewing both parties' arguments. He asked both parties if a controlled smaller-scale reproduction of the sucralose-making process could be created in a laboratory-like environment. Lawyers for Tate & Lyle said this was possible. Sugar Association lawyers disagreed.

Rule 34 inspections can often be sensitive from a trade secrets standpoint. This one is a particularly salient example.

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