Protecting Big Data in the Big Leagues: Trade Secrets in Professional Sports

Washington and Lee Law Review, Aug 2018

The protection of trade secrets within the professional sports industry became a hot-button issue in the summer of 2015, after news reports emerged revealing that officials from Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals were under federal investigation for having illegally accessed proprietary information belonging to their league rival, the Houston Astros. Indeed, professional sports teams in the United States and Canada often possess various forms of proprietary information or processes—ranging from scouting reports and statistical analyses to dietary regimens and psychological assessment techniques—giving them a potential competitive advantage over their rivals. Unfortunately, as with the rest of the economy at-large, little empirical data exists regarding either the types of proprietary information owned by these teams, or the measures that teams are taking to protect their trade secrets. Drawing upon freshly-collected survey data, this Article helps to fill this void in the literature by providing novel empirical evidence regarding the modern trade secret practices of the teams in the four major North American professional sports leagues. Based on the results of a first-of-its-kind survey conducted in the spring of 2016 of the general counsels of teams in the four major leagues, this Article sheds light on both the types of information subjected to trade secret assertion by these firms, as well as the methods they are using to safeguard their data. In the process, this Article examines the implications of these survey results for the professional sports industry, while also identifying potential new lines of inquiry for future trade secret research.

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Protecting Big Data in the Big Leagues: Trade Secrets in Professional Sports

Protecting Big Data in the Big Leagues: Trade Secrets in Professional Sports Nathaniel Grow 0 1 2 3 0 Lara Grow and Nathaniel Grow, Protecting Big Data in the Big Leagues: Trade Secrets in Professional Sports, 74 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1567, 2017 1 Indiana University , Bloomington , USA 2 Lara Grow Indiana University , Bloomington , USA 3 Thi s Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Washington and Lee Law Review at Washington & Lee University School of Law Scholarly Commons. It has been accepted for inclusion in Washington and Lee Law Review by an authorized editor of Washington & Lee University School of Law Scholarly Commons. For more information , please contact , USA Follow this and additional works at: http://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/wlulr Part of the Intellectual Property Law Commons Recommended Citation - Article 7


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Lara Grow, Nathaniel Grow. Protecting Big Data in the Big Leagues: Trade Secrets in Professional Sports, Washington and Lee Law Review, 2018,