Coke wants documents withheld from theft trial

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Coca-Cola Co. sought Wednesday to block a defense lawyer’s request for documents in a trade secrets theft case that relate to products the world’s largest beverage maker developed but never launched.

The Atlanta-based company filed a motion in federal court to quash a subpoena by Joya Williams’ lawyer for the documents in preparation for Williams’ Jan. 16 trial. Williams is charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from Coca-Cola in an effort to sell them to rival Pepsi.

Two co-defendants have already pleaded guilty in the case, and at least one is expected to testify against Williams, a former Coca-Cola secretary who worked for the company’s global brand director at its headquarters.

According to the motion, Williams’ lawyer, Janice Singer, has subpoenaed 19 categories of records from Coca-Cola.

The company is objecting to production of two of the categories: documents reflecting all products Coca-Cola developed or which were in development which it decided not to launch within the last three years, and documents reflecting all marketing strategies formulated by or for Coca-Cola that were termed confidential or secret but were not used in the last three years.

Company lawyer Stephen Cowen said Singer’s request for those categories of documents amounts to a “fishing expedition” for material that is sensitive and considered valuable trade secret information.

“Although the company may have determined in the recent past not to launch certain products under development or not to adopt certain marketing strategies, the unused products and strategies still very much constitute trade secrets,” Cowen wrote.

Singer did not immediately return a call to her office Wednesday seeking comment.

Williams, Edmund Duhaney and Ibrahim Dimson were indicted July 11 on federal conspiracy charges. The three were accused of stealing new product samples and confidential documents from Coca-Cola and trying to sell them to Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc.

The alleged plans were foiled after Pepsi warned Coca-Cola.

Williams has since been fired from her job at Coca-Cola. She has pleaded not guilty.