The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that information submitted by Uber and Lyft to the city of Seattle falls under the category of trade secrets, but the court said that information may still be subject to public disclosure under state law.
It was a split decision by the state’s high court, but a majority said trade secrets are not categorically excluded from the state’s Public Records Act. This all stems from one man’s attempt to get information from the city of Seattle on whether Lyft and Uber drivers are engaging in redlining by avoiding certain neighborhoods.
Lyft and Uber sued to block the release of the information. Michael Ryan, an assistant city attorney for Seattle, said the city chose to appeal after a lower court judge sided with the companies.
“We see this as a win for transparency and a win for the public’s right to access public records and that was one of the reasons that motivated us taking this lawsuit all the way to the state Supreme Court,” Ryan said.
The companies will now have to prove to the lower court judge that disclosing the information is “clearly not in the public’s interest” and that the companies would suffer “substantial and irreparable harm.”
Uber spokesman Caleb Weaver said Uber is gearing up to make that case in court.
“We look forward to demonstrating to the trial court again why these trade secrets should be protected from disclosure by the city of Seattle to competitors,” he said.
Lyft did not respond to an email seeking comment.