Protection of Trade Secrets

by admin on 6 February 2011

One of the unsung heros of the IP world are trade secrets. They can provide substantial protection to innovators and help to protect and sustain products, as long as the trade secrets are actually kept secret. Unfortunately in the European Union the laws are generally inadequate. There may be provisions – such as in the German law on unfair competition – which restrict a former employee disclosing trade secrets to his new employer. But what happens with knowledge illicitly gained? There’s no clear answer in most countries. It’s interesting therefore to see the legislative initiative in France reported Pierre Breese’s blog here in French. The proposer, French MP Bernard Carayon (link to Wikipedia article here and personal website here) is noted for his defense of French interests.

The text (in French here) could do with some improvement, but is a great start in introducing statutory protection going beyond the theft of trade secrets by former employees. It could certainly serve as an excellent basis for an European-wide directive which is sadly lacking.

Wikipedia article on the US Uniform Trade Secrets Act is here.

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patent litigation 02.15.11 at 6:55 am

Indeed, trade secrets are sometimes a more appropriate form of IP protection than patents. Not only does obtaining a patent require publication of the essential aspects of a technology, but it’s also in some cases prohibitively expensive (especially for small companies and independent innovators). However, the choice as to whether to obtain a patent or rely on trade secret protection is an important decision; and, whatever option an innovator selects, it is essential to consult an IP professional before committing to an irreversible course of action.

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