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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Universal Coin Bullion Ltd. sells coins to dealers and the general public, and it employs sales personnel for that purpose. The company sued attorney Bill Voss, newspaper reporter Jerry Jordan and two former UCB employees, John Rollins and Shannon Smith. According to UCB, Voss and Jordan allegedly acted in concert with the former employees to unlawfully use the company’s confidential information regarding current and former UCB customers. The company alleged Voss and Jordan used the confidential and proprietary information to write letters to UCB customers. The pleadings asserted the following causes of action: conspiracy to misappropriate confidential information and trade secrets; conspiracy to violate the Texas Theft Liability Act; and conspiracy to commit tortious interference with contract. UCB filed written objections to the production requests filed by Rollins and Smith, a motion for protection from discovery and a motion for protective order. In the 57 responses at issue, UCB asserted the trade secret privilege and objected that many of the requests were overly broad and not reasonably calculated to lead to discoverable evidence. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on UCB’s protection motions. Jordan’s attorney was present at the hearing. Subsequently, Jordan filed a notice of adoption of Rollins’ and Smith’s requests for production. UCB then filed a motion asserting that the discovery issues underlying the discovery hearing were moot, because after settlement the only party remaining in the suit was Jordan. The trial court nevertheless signed an order that granted UCB’s trade secrets privilege claims to four of the requests for production subject to being requested by Jordan, should that be necessary for his defense. The trial court denied UCB’s trade-secret-privilege assertion as to the remaining 53 requests. The order made findings of fact and concluded there was sufficient evidence that a trier of fact could believe the fraud allegations against UCB. UCB sought a writ of mandamus to obtain relief from the pretrial discovery order in the suit against sole remaining defendant Jordan. The central issue was the appropriateness of the trial court’s order compelling production of trade secrets. HOLDING:The court conditionally granted the writ of mandamus. A trade secret, the court stated, is any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in one’s business and presents an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. A requesting party seeking discovery of a trade secret must establish that a trade secret disclosure would be relevant to a claim or defense in the action, the court stated. Discovery requests that are overly broad and seek irrelevant information are not permissible. The court reviewed the record of the hearings and concluded that the trial judge did not address UCB’s previously filed objections regarding relevance or overbreadth. To the extent that any of UCB’s 53 denied requests to invoke the trade secrets privilege as to UCB’s customer list and customer identity information, the court found that such requests involved the same information determined by the trial court to be trade secrets. While the trial court’s order purports at one point to protect the trade secrets absent a showing of necessity by Jordan, the court found that the order nevertheless overruled most of the trade secret objections. The trial court’s rulings granting and overruling the trade secret objections are inconsistent, the court stated. What is at least temporarily protected by the trade secret privilege in response to some requests, the court stated, is not protected by the order in response to others. The court ordered the trial court to vacate its Oct. 19, 2006, order, and to conduct further proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion. OPINION:Per curiam; McKeithen, C.J., and Gaultney and Kreger, J.J.

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