Russell Beck was quoted by Dow Jones’ VentureWire discussing a recent move by the Department of Energy to categorize the total cost of renewable energy projects, backed by billions of dollars in federal loans, as non-public information. The DOE’s decision was in response to requests from loan recipients. Beck’s discussion concerned whether or not a project’s total cost could be classified as a trade secret. The full story is available here. The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog mentions the post here.
Total cost of a project can be considered a trade secret, but only if a company can prove the information could give a competitor an economic advantage, according to Russell Beck, attorney with the law firm Beck Reed Riden LLP and a professor at the Boston University School of Law’s Intellectual Property program. Just because the cost is confidential doesn’t automatically make it a trade secret, he said, especially in cases where the contract is already signed with a customer as opposed to still being part of a confidential bid process. The fact that the information was open to the public, and to competitors, for several months on the government website is also likely to disqualify it from being subject of trade secret laws, Beck said.
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