Thursday, August 20, 2009, 8/20/2009 04:37:00 PM

Newspaper’s Publication of Trade Secrets Leads to Lawsuit

This is a new one on us.

From the AP, via Google, a story that generic drug manufacturer, Mylan Inc. is suing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over stories based on internal documents containing company trade secrets that were leaked to the paper.

The stories, Mylan contends, prompted a review by the Food and Drug Administration which ultimately concluded that Mylan did nothing wrong. (The documents, apparently, concerned employees overriding computer-generated warnings about potential problems with manufacturing of medicines.)

Mylan’s complaint alleges misappropriation of trade secrets and was filed in the state Circuit Court in Monongalia County, West Virginia. The suit asks for the documents back, along with an unspecified amount of damages.

The Post-Gazette’s publisher, for his part, says that the paper “stands fully behind its reporting and its news gathering and will defend the suit vigorously."

I’m certain some sort of First Amendment defense will be asserted. The question is whether special protections such as those afforded under New York Times v. Sullivan, will be afforded to the press in the context of a trade secrets case, as opposed to a defamation claim.

This case bears watching.


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