Windows source leaked?

Steve Furlong sfurlong at
Fri Feb 13 18:07:08 PST 2004

On Fri, 2004-02-13 at 19:02, Justin wrote:
> Case law on point?  I don't think that is true at all.  Trade secrets
> that are leaked are no longer trade secrets.

Incorrect. Trade secrets that are deliberately released by the owner are
no longer secret. Secrets that are carelessly released by the owner (eg,
wide-open path between their web server and their CVS repository) are
probably no longer secrets, but that's subject to finding of fact if it
goes to trial. Secrets that are stolen or illegally leaked are still
legally secrets. That's pretty clear, though things like developers
leaving a company and using their knowledge elsewhere can be
questionable. That's why most companies have non-disclosure forms for
you to sign when you start work.

Regarding case law cites, you can check google or findlaw as well as I.
Here, for the lazy or inept, is a useful page:

>   I think the issue would be
> copyright and/or patent violation.

That, too. In the case of IBM's PC-BIOS that I mentioned before, IBM
relied on copyright rather than trade secret. (Obviously, given that
they released the source themselves.) Note, also, that that happened in
the days before rampant software patents. If the same were to happen
today, they'd almost certainly get a patent on their BIOS, and Compaq
wouldn't have been able to do their clean-room reimplementation.

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