Part One of a Two-Part Series

In a technology-driven economy, the threat to trade secret and propriety information is real and visceral. A recent survey estimated that theft of this information resulted in losses of more than $50 billion to the responding companies, which included Fortune 1000 corporations as well as small and midsized businesses, for the year ending June 30, 2001. The American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Trends in Proprietary Information Loss: Survey Report (Sept. 2002). It is perhaps only natural that this threat should find its way into litigation, particularly product liability litigation. Discovery in these cases typically involves the production of some of the product manufacturer’s proprietary and technical information. More recently, however, claimants have sought the manufacturer’s trade secrets – highly confidential information at the heart of the company’s business. The responding manufacturer objects to this discovery as causing irreparable harm if disclosed, and the battle lines are drawn.