Several months later, Wal-Mart secured a temporary restraining order against Gabbard that prevented him from further disclosing trade secrets and confidential company information. Gabbard also was ordered to turn over two computer hard drives that Wal-Mart believed contained its documents to a local prosecutor. Wal-Mart ultimately secured a permanent injunction that required Gabbard to return any other trade-secrets or confidential information.
This dispute resurfaced recently when Gabbard apparently posted what Wal-Mart believed to be confidential documents on a website in violation of the permanent injunction. Gabbard has denied that he violated any order and that the documents were provided to him after the orders were entered. His lawsuit contends that Wal-Mart is trying to compel him to sign a non-disclosure agreement and chill his First Amendment rights.
Contempt proceedings are pretty serious matters and one can only presume that Wal-Mart is pretty confident that the order was violated. I will see if I can track down the pleadings and the website that is alleged to have contained the confidential documents to evaluate whether the costs of this litigation outweigh the substantial national publicity it seems to be generating. In the meantime, this case could turn out to be a good example of what has come to be known as the “Barbara Striesand effect” — a phrase that was coined after the famous diva loudly protested Google Earth’s efforts to photograph her home, leading of course to even more unwanted internet traffic and interest.