SUBSCRIBE TODAY!
Subscribing entitles a reader to complete stories on all topics released as they happen, special features, confidential documents and access to the complete, searchable story archive online back to 2004.
IP-Watch Summer Interns

IP-Watch interns talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

Inside Views

Submit ideas to info [at] ip-watch [dot] ch!

We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


Latest Comments
  • So this is how we mankind will become extinct? No ... »
  • 'Business methods were generally not patentable in... »

  • For IPW Subscribers

    A directory of IP delegates in Geneva. Read more>

    A guide to Geneva-based public health and intellectual property organisations. Read More >


    Monthly Reporter

    The Intellectual Property Watch Monthly Reporter, published from 2004 to January 2011, is a 16-page monthly selection of the most important, updated stories and features, plus the People and News Briefs columns.

    The Intellectual Property Watch Monthly Reporter is available in an online archive on the IP-Watch website, available for IP-Watch Subscribers.

    Access the Monthly Reporter Archive >

    Trade Secrets Important But Neglected, IP Experts Say At WTO

    Published on 7 October 2013 @ 11:39 am

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    Academics and experts from international organisations met last week at the World Trade Organization to discuss the role of know-how in today’s global economy, stressing the relevance of trade secrets in global value chains and international transfer of technology.

    The 1 October workshop, entitled “Managing knowhow and trade secrets in global value chains and the international transfer of technology,” was organised by the WTO Intellectual Property Division in the context of the WTO Public Forum. The forum took place from 1-3 October under the theme “Expanding trade through innovation and the digital economy” (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 1 October 2013).

    The panel on trade secrets was meant to address a “fascinating subject” that has been “neglected compared to other areas of intellectual property,” said event moderator Antony Taubman, director of the WTO Intellectual Property Division.

    In his presentation, Nuno Carvalho, director of the Intellectual Property and Competition Policy Division at World Intellectual Property Organization, emphasised the natural tendency of economic actors to create and use trade secrets in their business operations, and underlined the intrinsic relevance of trade secrets in the field of intellectual property.

    “Trade secrets are a matter of fact before they become a matter of law,” said Carvalho. “Secrecy is physical, before being legal.”

    “Trade secrets are at the origin of almost all IP rights. Indeed, before being patents and copyright, IP rights are almost all trade secrets,” he added.

    In recent years, the importance of trade secrets has grown, as innovation’s structures and production chains become more dispersed and yet rely on the sharing of know-how and technological information through the use of the internet among trusted actors from all countries.

    Against this background, speakers underlined the importance of trade secrets for all kinds of businesses.

    “Trade secrets are essential for family business, but they are also present in pharmaceutical, chemicals and semiconductors companies,” Carvalho said.

    In the same vein, Jorge Novais Gonçalves, from the European Commission Internal Market and Services Directorate-General, stressed that “trade secrets are not specific to one industry.” In presenting the outcomes of a new paper commissioned by the European Commission to Baker and McKenzie, Gonçalves underlined that know-how is of particular importance for small and medium enterprises that lack of financial resources to manage a large IP portfolio.

    However, despite the increasing relevance of undisclosed information in the global economy, “maybe one percent of IP scholars deal with trade secrets,” said Shamnad Basheer, professor at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata, India.

    Common International Standard

    Taubman tried to dispel some criticism of a supposed lack of discipline on trade secrets in international law. At the multilateral level, he explained, undisclosed information is protected by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The WTO perspective on this issue is linked to the concept of protection against unfair commercial practice, he said.

    “When you look at the WTO system and legal texts, undisclosed information is clearly part of the package. The TRIPS Agreement expresses requirements to protect undisclosed information,” Taubman claimed.

    “It is an attempt, dating back to over 20 years ago, to codify at the international level the law of trade secrets and provide a broad international standard,” he added.

    However, despite the existence of an international standard, countries adopt a great variety of different legal approaches to protect trade secrets, Taubman said. This emerges when analysing the legal mechanisms put in place by WTO members to give effect to their TRIPS obligation. Specifically, the legal measures adopted touch a large number of different sets of laws, such as unfair competition law, administrative law, competition law and even non-statutory common law instruments.

    According to some speakers, this variety may create problems by undermining legal certainty. Gonçalves raised the example of EU members’ legislations, where the “legal framework is fragmented, diversified and opaque.”

    Gonçalves claimed that a sound system of protection would have beneficial effects on business, reducing the costs of protecting sensitive data, and would facilitate the sharing of know-how. In addition, a safe legal environment would benefit labour mobility, he said.

    “In the absence of trade secrets protection, there are more non-compete clauses in contracts, while if trade secret protection is in place, there is less need for such clauses,” Gonçalves argued.

    Importance of Know-how for R&D, TK and Tech Transfer

    The protection of undisclosed information could have a role also in addressing concerns in the field of traditional knowledge. In this sense, Basheer emphasised that “informal knowledge exists in indigenous communities and it’s in great part a form of trade secrets.”

    “Indigenous communities have a relationship with knowledge that often transcends its commercial value and this is an additional rationale of why you want to protect trade secrets,” he said.

    Some panellists also discussed the possible benefits to research and development (R&D) activities deriving from the protection of trade secrets. Gonçalves noted that the United States and Japan have a “more mature approach than the EU countries on the protection of trade secrets.” Notably, the US and Japan “perform better [than the EU] in private R&D investment.”

    “I’m not saying that investment on R&D depends on the protection of undisclosed information, but trade secrets can be part of the package to improve investment in research,” he argued.

    Basheer highlighted a different perspective on the effects of trade secrets on R&D, claiming that the protection of know-how in developing countries that are becoming R&D hubs can be of greater value then patent protection.

    “If you have people moving from one R&D area to another, what really matters is trade secrets, not the Indian patent law,” he stated.

    Trade secrets can also have a more crucial role than patents in technology transfer, several speakers said.

    “Data are scarce on the quantification of the value of trade secrets for businesses,” Carvalho said. “This means that reports on innovation are necessarily incomplete, because they cannot capture innovation deriving from secrets. However, data on technology transfer show that trade secrets are relevant, if not predominant, vis-à-vis other components of IP.”

    In this regard, Prof. Sean O’Connor from the University of Washington School of Law explained that there is a “distinction between procedural knowledge – that implies mastering an activity – and declarative knowledge, that is just about factual information and doesn’t require practice.”

    O’Connor argued that to enable technology transfer, “there must be more than simple information disclosure.”

    “If you just see a patent and you have no access to the laboratory, in many cases you can’t actually produce what is described in the patent,” he said, while explaining that new technologies might be able to ease knowledge transfer by documenting and capturing know-how.

    Carvalho claimed that the “opposition between patents and trade secrets does not always correspond to reality.”

    “Without know-how, often you can’t exploit a patent, that’s why we have few compulsory licences in developing countries,” Carvalho concluded.

     

    Alessandro Marongiu may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Trade Secrets Important But Neglected, IP Experts Say At WTO – Intellectual Property Watch | Legal Planet says:

      […] See original here: CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE […]


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
    Your IP address is 54.197.18.132