Liles Parker PLLC
(202) 298-8750 (800) 475-1906
Washington, DC | Houston, TX
San Antonio, TX | Baton Rouge, LA

We Defend Healthcare Providers Nationwide in Audits & Investigations

Trade Secret Information Shared with Cities

Is Trade Secret Information Shared with a City Confidential?(July 14, 2010): Is your company trade secret information confidential when given in an electronic or written format to a City officer or employee?  Alternatively, is your pricing information and technological information provided in conjunction with a contract with a City confidential?  The answer to both questions is “maybe”.  The public information laws of the state where the City is located should always be reviewed, by both the City and the CompanyFor example, most state public information laws start with the proposition that all documents given to a City are public information. There are exceptions to this rule, such as social security numbers,  attorney/client communications and trade secrets.   The burden is normally on the City to show that an exception applies to the information requested thereby making it confidential and not “public”.  And a City usually has a specific time frame in which to respond or to assert the reasons why the information is not public and is confidential.  Failure to do so usually will result in the requirement the documents be released without any type of redress other than filing a protective action in Court.

Normally the facts are that a public information request is made to the City for any and all documents given to the City by Company “A”.  The City determines if there is an exception that applies to the documents.   The City may either argue the exception to the appropriate authority (usually the state attorney general (AG)) or notify the AG that the City believes the information is confidential and will rely on the Company to make the arguments the information is confidential.   Of course the City is usually required to timely notify the Company of the action taken and the Company has a specific time frame to assert the reasons why the information is confidential.

Confidentiality provisions in a contract between the City and a Company should always be reviewed.  The City should review to make sure that there is language such as “to the extent provided by law” the City agrees to keep certain information confidential.  The Company should make sure that there is a provision stating that the City will timely notify the Company of any requests for its information and to take the appropriate actions to allow the Company to protect any information the Company believes is confidential.

As always, both the City and the Company should have their respective attorneys review the contracts and confidentiality provisions.

Health Care AttorneyShould you have any questions regarding these issues, don’t hesitate to contact us.  For a complimentary consultation, call Leonard Schneider or one of our other attorneys at: 1 (800) 475-1906.

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