Trade secrets

Trade secrets and the Internet of Things (IOT)

Innovation Council’s Phil Wadsworth has produced an overview of trade secrets and the Internet of Things (IOT). Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property (IP). In order to understand the relevance of trade secret protection to IOT devices, it is helpful to explore the underlying technologies associated with those devices. This will help the reader to appreciate both the benefits and limitations of trade secret protection.

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Trade secrecy and COVID-19

In this working paper, Innovation Council’s Mark Schultz and his colleagues analyse how trade secrets and other IPRs underpin innovation and manufacturing of Covid-19 Vaccines. They document that innovators already are sharing secrets and know-how widely with dozens of partners across the world to produce vaccine and therapeutic doses as quickly as possible. In several instances, they are working closely with their biggest competitors, thanks to the security provided by trade secrecy and other IP laws.

The authors conclude that forcing the disclosure of trade secrets would get in the way of manufacturing badly needed doses of Covid-19 vaccines by undermining voluntary arrangements and diverting resources from where they are needed most.

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Why trade secrets matter: Covid vaccine manufacturing scale-up and the WTO’s proposed IP waiver

Geneva Network is organising a discussion on the role of trade secrets in Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. A panel of global experts, including Innovation Council’s own Mark Schultz, will shed light on how this important intellectual property right works, how it relates to vaccine manufacturing, and the implications of the IP waiver currently under discussion at the WTO.

The webinar will take place on September 14, 2021: 13.00 – 14.00 GMT.

Read the full story and register here.

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Trade Secrets: A Primer

 Trade secrets are an important component of the intellectual property (IP) system. In addition to their important role protecting business’ confidential information, they are an effective complement to patent protection. They can be used in areas where patents are not appropriate tools for protecting knowledge. Depending on the context, they can also be more cost-effective and practical to use than registered IP rights, especially patents. As such, trade secrets are a particularly useful tool for businesses with limited resources, such as small companies and firms in developing countries. In its latest paper, the Innovation Council answers the most important questions about trade secrets in a nutshell.

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Building a Culture of Trade Secret Protection

Craig Moss, Executive Vice President of Ethisphere, explains in this video that protecting your company’s ‘crown jewels’—namely, intellectual property—effectively needs to be more than simply signing non-disclosure agreements and marking documents as confidential. This is especially true today, since more and more companies are going through a digital transformation.

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The Global Trade Secrets Protection Index (TSPI)

Mark Schultz and co-author Douglas Lippoldt created the Trade Secret Protection Index (TSPI). The TSPI is a data-driven, objective index that measures the strength of trade secret protection in 39 countries from 1985 to 2010. It was originally created for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in two ground-breaking studies, which IIPR is working to update and expand upon, so more information and analysis will be available shortly about the state of TS protection in different countries.

The first study, Approaches to Protection of Undisclosed Information (Trade Secrets), explains the importance of trade secret law and establishes the TSPI, explaining its methodology and results.

The second study, Uncovering Trade Secrets – An Empirical Assessment of Economic Implications of Protection for Undisclosed Data, uses the TSPI to assess the economic impact of trade secret law. It finds a positive relationship between the strength of trade secret laws and several important economic outcomes related to trade and innovation.

Link to TSPI.

 

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Beyond the Contract: Building a Trade Secret Protection Culture

As Craig Moss, Executive Vice President of Ethisphere, explains in his article, the increasing prevalence of sensitive digital information has led companies to rely more heavily on trade secret protection as an IP strategy.  At the same time, however, the increase in digital activity makes trade secret protection more difficult, as digital assets are easier to copy and move than physical ones.  Furthermore, effective protection can be even more difficult because trade secrets often need to be shared with third parties—such as contract manufacturers, R&D centers, resellers, and joint venture partners—in the normal course of business.

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Covid Vaccines: Intellectual Property and Access, a Melting Pot of Viewpoints

Innovation Council member SARIMA has published an article by Dr Andrew Bailey, in which he explains the various views on the issue of access to IP in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. He sees a need for governments to build capacity in the manufacture of vaccines, in order to both meet local demand and assist with pandemic response. 

During the pandemic, there was incredible collaboration across institutional, corporate, and national boundaries to address the urgent health crisis. Bailey hopes that this experience will shape global thinking about collaboration, and about how to ensure equitable access to healthcare whilst taking care to properly respect the infrastructural investments, trade secrets, and know-how of manufacturers.

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Why the differences in valuing patents and trade secrets matter

It is important, for a startup to understand how patents and trade secrets can be valued as assets, the positive and negative factors that go into valuing both, and how potential investors really view these assets.

Trade secrets may not have the same cache as patents to a startup because they do not come with a ribbon-affixed certificate, are not subjected to any examination process, and are often harder to define. But trade secrets can be just as valuable — and in some instances more valuable — than patents. This article explains the values of both patents and trade secrets to help align the IP strategy with the overall business model.

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