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Orbitz contracts with hotels are ‘trade secrets,’ Tax Court rules

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The Indiana Tax Court Wednesday granted online travel company Orbitz LLC’s request to place certain documents under seal – including contracts the company has with three Indiana hotels. Judge Martha Wentworth determined that the contracts are trade secrets, so they are not subject to public disclosure.

The ruling came in Orbitz, LLC v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, 49T10-0903-TA-10, in which Orbitz challenged the results of an audit the Department of State Revenue completed in 2007. The revenue department determined Orbitz was deficient in remitting Indiana’s gross retail (sales) and county innkeeper taxes on bookings that occurred between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2006, through its website.

Orbitz protested the proposed assessments issued by the department and initiated this tax appeal in 2009. In August 2013, the company sought to prohibit public access to copies of contracts with the hotels. The contracts specifically detail what Orbitz has negotiated with the hotels regarding room rates.

Wentworth determined the contracts have the four characteristics of trade secrets: they are information; that derive independent economic value; that are not generally known, or readily ascertainable by proper means by others who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and that are the subject of efforts, reasonable
under the circumstances, to maintain their secrecy.

“Competition is the bedrock of our country’s economic system,” she wrote. “The protection afforded to trade secrets under Access to Public Records Act and Administrative Rule 9 helps to foster a healthy, competitive marketplace.”
 

 

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  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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