Doesn't the whole world know that, if you publish info you regard as a trade secret, you lose any right to complain about others' use of the info?

The man who came up with a way to pack meat with zero oxygen in the package seems not to have gotten the memo. He — Dr. Gustav Tewari — claimed that a vendor of fresh lamb cuts stole his method despite the fact that he'd filed patent applications on his oxygen-free meat-packing process and that anyone with a computer and browser could read the applications online.

The district court held that, as a matter of Texas law, the public airing spoiled the secrecy element of a trade secret claim. A panel of the Fifth Circuit affirmed:

There can be no dispute that a published patent application, like a patent, is readily available—the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Google both allow free online searching of published patent applications. Under Texas law, information that is generally known or readily available by independent investigation is not secret for purposes of trade secrecy.




Tewari De-Ox Systems, Inc. v. Mountain States/Rosen, L.L.C., No. 10-50137, slip op. at 10 (5th Cir. Apr. 5, 2011) (citations omitted).

You should note that, as the court pointed out, the filing of the applications came before any misappropriation. The outcome might have changed if Tewari had disclosed the info after the bad deeds, if any.

Bear in mind as well that the panel still reversed summary judgment against Tewari because the applications seem not to have told all about Tewari's method, which he said involved combining processes that all the world knew about in a way that all the world didn't know about.