Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


David Greene


Trade secret owners often come into conflict with the First Amendment rights of free speech and free press when they seek to restrict the publication of their trade secrets by others. Although the Uniform Trade Secrets Act provides some remedies for the unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets, First Amendment principles can make it difficult for trade secret owners to obtain such relief, especially when the publisher of the trade secret owes no duty of confidentiality to its rightful owner. Some trade secret owners have argued that trade secrets should be immune from First Amendment scrutiny, but there is no historical legal basis for such an exemption. Others have argued that the First Amendment should protect against the publication of trade secrets since the First Amendment already protects against the publication of confidential information in a variety of other contexts. While the development of the Internet has impacted the dissemination of trade secrets, the author of the article concludes that First Amendment principles should not be modified, but that trade practices in general should be adjusted to provide better protection for trade secret owners.