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Technology: Protecting confidential information from disclosure in court proceedings

Electronic court filings make it easier than ever for the public to gain access to sensitive business information

One of the fundamental impacts the integration of computer technologies into litigation practice has had on our court system is the increased ease of access to information. The federal court system switched over to electronic filing in the mid-2000s, and now most state court systems have already, or are in the process of, implementing electronic filing.

Previously, locating public court documents took a trip to the clerk’s office, the patience to go through physical papers and the hope that relevant information would be contained in the document. Now, the public has click-of-a-button access to almost any court filing that is not under seal, and the ability to electronically search such records. Combine that with blogs that track important litigations and provide dissemination of information from high-profile cases, and companies may face public relations difficulties, if not worse.

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James Hanft

James E. Hanft is counsel in the Intellectual Property Group of Schiff Hardin LLP. He has been counseling clients and prosecuting and litigating patents for...

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