Tuesday, January 08, 2008, 1/08/2008 01:29:00 PM

PETA Wants Animal Testing Records - Mississippi High Court Will Rule on Trade Secrets Objections

By Todd
In January 2006, PETA filed suit alleging Mississippi State University violated the Mississippi Public Records Act when it was denied records of dental experiments and other tests on animals conducted since 1999 for Iams, a pet foot manufacturer.

The Public Records Act requires that records be furnished to the public either free of charge or in return for reasonable fees.

Iams' attorney James P. Streetman III of Jackson has argued that the experiments are the company's intellectual property. He has said Iams has made a substantial investment at Mississippi State in order to develop and protect that property.

PETA said it didn't want trade secrets. PETA said it only wanted to know what happened to the animals at Mississippi State.

PETA claimed Mississippi State wanted an advance fee of $40,497 for the documents it requested. When it reduced the number of pages asked for, PETA claims MSU told them that only 19 of the requested pages would be sent and the cost would be $1,000.

The university claimed the remaining pages contained proprietary information, according to court documents.

In her ruling in December 2006, Colom said the type and number of animals used in an experiment, whether surgery will be performed, and information related to animals' pain and discomfort do not qualify as trade secrets.

"Having carefully reviewed each and every protocol submitted by MSU and Iams, this court hereby finds that the protocols themselves are not a trade secret," Colom said.

This matter is being appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court - and we'll let the cat out of the bag once we know something more.

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