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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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