The release of documents in recent legal battles between elite collegiate institutions and the Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit group seeking to eradicate the consideration of race in university admissions, has brought to question measures taken by the universities to shield information relating to their admissions processes from public view. These materials included admissions training materials, procedures for evaluating applications, and admitted applicant profiles and statistics. An examination of the universities’ justifications to prevent public disclosure of this information provides insight into their varying reliance on intellectual property protections derived for trade secrets. These varying justifications help illustrate the complex, ever-changing nature of trade secret law, in which even the baseline determination of what may properly constitute a trade secret often remains an open question. The SFFA cases further highlight how this ambiguity provides fertile grounds for entities with commercial interests to strain the boundaries of trade secret law to cover business information that, if disclosed to the public, threatens reputational harm but which may not otherwise rise to the level of trade secret.
CLAIMING ADMISSIONS DATA TRADE SECRETS— TAKING ADVANTAGE OF STATUTORY AMBIGUITY?,
Nw. J. Tech. & Intell. Prop.