Lane Powell Shareholder Grant Degginger was quoted in a December 12 Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) article titled “Business Secrets Revealed: When Working With Government Agencies, Companies Can Have a Tough Time Keeping Details Private.” The article discussed two opinions made this year by the Washington Court of Appeals, which ruled that contracts between private entities and local governments are subject to requests under the Public Records Act (PRA). In both cases the court rejected the private entities’ argument that portions of the contracts were exempt from disclosure because they were trade secrets. The recent Belo Management v. Click! Network decision sheds light on the court’s thought process in these rulings and gives businesses the opportunity to adjust the ways in which they protect their trade secrets. In order to prove that information is a trade secret, a business needs to show that the information is paramount to how the company makes money and that an effort has been made to keep it away from the eyes of the public.
Degginger said companies should focus on what’s unique about the information, how its release would harm the company and why disclosure of the information isn’t in the public’s interest. …
… You have to be very precise about what you’re putting in and to what purpose,” Degginger said. “Exemptions to PRA requests are going to be very narrowly construed and carefully reviewed.”
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