Defining Trade Secrets, Not Defining Journalists

from the focus-everyone... dept

In the Apple vs rumor sites case, the press has built it up as a question of whether or not bloggers deserve the same protections as journalists (which many have extended to mean “are bloggers journalists?” — which is a silly question, when you think about it). However, in the decision concerning subpoenas, the judge clearly avoided the issue for a good reason. It really had little to do with the case at hand. Instead, the question is what’s the definition of a trade secret? The judge made it clear that if this was a trade secret violation, then any journalist would be just as guilty — since this isn’t so much about “whistle-blowing” as it is about revealing product data before it was to officially be released. Of course, that complicates matters. What if the process of whistle blowing also involves revealing trade secrets? In most cases, it does. It seems like, for now, the test being used is whether or not it’s a public safety or health issue, in which case it becomes protected whistle-blowing. If it’s just product data, then it might not be protected.

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