Will The Right to Know Act affect Trade Secrets in California?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | Trade Secrets |

Laws exists to protect people from harmful situations, settle debates and clarify morally and ethically nebulous territory. Most of the laws that make our society run are crafted in good faith and are designed to address real-world problems. Some laws, however, unintentionally serve as a double-edged sword.

Today, we turn our attention to a contentious piece of legislation that’s been passed by the California state senate and is currently under debate by the legislature: SB 1149, aka “The Right to Know Act.” We’ll examine how this bill might affect the world of trademarks, intellectual properties and similar legal issues.

What is SB1149?

The Right to Know act was initially drafted with the public interest at heart. Originating in the state senate, the bill was authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva. Its original intent was to protect consumers —and the public at large— from any product that might pose either:

  • Harmful health effects
  • Environmental hazards

It also serves to prevent businesses from making any form of agreement that might prevent important information from being released to the public.

Although the bill is firmly rooted in public well-being, it’s not without criticism.

How does SB 1149 Affect trade secrets?

SB 1149 may do an incredible job of protecting public interests, but what about trade secrets used to manufacture the products in question? Does the law treat those businesses equally, or does it force them to reveal valuable trade secrets and proprietary information regarding their intellectual property?

Some critics have argued that the very nature of the law opens up those businesses to an unreasonable degree. Their contention is that the Right to Know Act subjects them to undue public scrutiny during the discovery phase of any court proceeding. Not only that, but the bill also makes provisions for outside parties, such as the media or even individuals, to file a request with the court that could ultimately grant them access to sensitive trade secrets.

The question is, does the proposed bill provide any protections over intellectual property?

How will SB 1149 affect me?

The Right to Know Act passed in the California state senate in May of 2022. It is currently being debated and rewritten in the state legislature. However, lawmakers have added a clause intended to protect proprietary information and trade secrets, as long as they don’t cause material harm to the public.

A lot remains to be seen about SB 1149. Will it have a tangible effect on trade secrets in California, or are there ample protections built into the law? There’s no need for alarm at current, but it pays to be aware of the changing legal tides.

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