General Motors Pushes for an End to Trade-Secret Sharing

Over several years and many cases, General Motors (GM) has waged war against the Texas Supreme Court decision made in 1987. According to that ruling, attorneys can share the company secrets of major corporations with other lawyers who have similar cases. Unfortunately, there is a clear line in the sand between those for and against this decision.

Attorneys say that sharing trade secrets allows them to hold big companies accountable for hazardous products. The companies, on the other hand, believe doing so is the easiest way for their private information to get leaked to the outside world.

But as recently evidenced, things are not as clear cut as they may appear. In a 2012 case, one family sued GM for their failure to create a strong enough vehicle. When the attorney asked for a blueprint to the vehicle, GM declined, saying it was highly guarded information. Others involved in the case disagreed and pointed out that any competitor could have recreated this very blueprint. It seems that GM has more at stake than merely protecting their company information.

Protecting their secrets or their reputation?

It is hard to say exactly where GM is coming from. Just last year, the company chose to quietly settle lawsuits related to deadly defects in ignition switches as opposed to taking these matters to court. Lawyers saw this incident as direct proof that GM is more concerned about protecting their reputation than their secrets.

For the attorneys, the motivation to share trade secrets with other lawyers is simple. It is more cost-effective and can eliminate unnecessary time that would otherwise be poured into similar cases. It can even bolster the cases that attorneys do have against major companies like GM.

This issue has been presented before the Texas Supreme Court multiple times, but in each case, the parties were able to resolve their differences before a decision could be reached. According to others, the popularity of these cases is a good sign that the Supreme Court is ready to take another look at the 1987 ruling.

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