How to Protect Trade Secrets in China: a Case Study

fgjMore and more European companies are considering bringing their cutting-edge technology to China, as the market offers many promising opportunities for European high tech companies. However, despite the fact that Chinese IP regime has improved a lot, IP infringements are still commonplace in China and, thus, European SMEs, wishing to successfully  do business in China, need to consider all the possibilities of how to protect their IP in China. Today’s blog post explores the often neglected, but a very useful  way of protecting IP in China – the trade secrets.

Nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable and highly useful form of intellectual property that are nevertheless often undervalued and overlooked by their owners. This is not least the case in the service sector where the relative value of trade secrets as intangible assets can be extremely high. For example, a logistics firm may not hold any patents or few trade marks and substantial copyrights, but the value of its operations could heavily derive from information contained within client lists and standard procedures.

A considerable advantage for trade secrets is that unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. The main difference between protecting something by patent or as a trade secret is that, while technical information is publicly disclosed in patents, it is kept away from the public eye in trade secrets. A trade secret can last forever as long as the confidentiality measures that protect it continue to work. An invention patent typically expires after 20 years.

On the other hand, legal protection of trade secrets is easily lost. Once the information becomes public information, it no longer enjoys any legal protection. As a result, prevention is the golden rule when it comes to protecting your trade secrets, because once your secret is out, there is usually very little that you can do about it. China, like most other countries, provides a legal framework for the protection for trade secrets, and the law provides for remedies in the event that your trade secrets are unlawfully disclosed. Continue reading “How to Protect Trade Secrets in China: a Case Study” »

Back to the Basics Series: Protecting your IP at Trade Fairs in China

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dreamstime_m_24720610Trade fairs are an excellent opportunity for a business to showcase their new products and scout out business partners for manufacturing, promotion, and distribution. Unfortunately, in China these exhibitions are a common prowling ground for infringers, so it is of utmost importance to ensure all intellectual property precautions are undertaken. It is not sufficient to merely gain intellectual property rights for a company’s assets – steps should be taken before, during and after a trade fair to ensure maximum protection. This article takes a look at some of the steps foreign businesses should take.

Before the trade fair: fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Determine your strategy in advance of the trade fair. Do you want to take enforcement action at the fair, or only use the fair as an opportunity to gather evidence? If you are not certain about securing all necessary evidence and paperwork to carry out an action at the fair, gathering evidence there first may be a better strategy. Continue reading “Back to the Basics Series: Protecting your IP at Trade Fairs in China” »

South-East Asia IPR Basics Series: Trade Secrets in Malaysia

IP TheftIn Malaysia, no pure information can be considered property. However, as a party to TRIPS and other agreements, Malaysia does have laws which prevent the unauthorised disclosure of information. This information is commonly referred to as “trade secrets,” although it is called “confidential information” in Malaysian law. This definition means that trade secrets cannot be proactively registered, but can form the basis of action taken against others. Confidential information in Malaysia can also take the form of virtually any other confidential information which was secret and protected by contractual agreements.

Continue reading “South-East Asia IPR Basics Series: Trade Secrets in Malaysia” »

South-East Asia IPR Basics Series: Trade Secrets in Singapore

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copyright_lockToday, continuing with our Southeast Asia IPR Series, we’re going to take a look at Singapore’s stance on trade secret protection.

Trade secrets are essential for the protection of confidential information which does not fall under the umbrella of other IP rights and can make or break a business moving into a new territory.

Below are a few tips we at the Helpdesk believe that SMEs will find useful when setting up shop in Singapore.

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Southeast Asian Unity Approaches

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The ASEAN IPR SME Helpdesk takes a look ahead towards the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. Is this the beginning of a new era for foreign companies in Southeast Asia or business as usual?

Continue reading “Southeast Asian Unity Approaches” »