Attorneys fight to protect trade secrets

Indianapolis Star business columnist John Ketzenberger recently offered a glimpse inside a little-known but well-funded and influential group that works to protect businesses’ trade secrets from coming out in court cases.

“Harmony B. Wigley died Aug. 7, 2001, when her car went out of control on I-69 in Hamilton County.

“The lawsuit her family filed against tire maker Bridgestone is before the Indiana Supreme Court — but not for the reason you would think.

“The question to be decided by Indiana’s top court: whether Bridgestone can protect the formula for a rubber compound as a trade secret.”

Those are the opening paragraphs of a recent piece by John Ketzenberger, a business columnist The Indianapolis Star.

The Indiana Legal Foundation, a pro-business group established by Harry Ice nearly 30 years ago, is organized to shelter trade secrets for major corporations, including Eli Lilly and Co. and Zimmer Holdings, according to the article.

Indiana law already protects trade secrets, but companies worry that discovery done during the pre-trial phase could hurt their businesses if trade secrets are divulged. It is not uncommon when major lawsuits are filed against companies that those companies seek orders to close records and settle out of court with confidential claims -— and victims threatened with losing those claims if any public statements are made.

Unfortunately, what the process tends to do is put others at risk.

According the The Star, the foundation has 60 contributing businesses, all with the same goal of protecting trade secrets in lawsuits or the legislature.

You can read the entire story on The Star’s Web site.