TNtech: The ABC of IP strategy for a small R&D company

Transforming the results of R&D into commercially viable products is a business challenge that must be carried out in conformity with a coherent IP strategy. Such a strategy helps save time and resources. Additionally, a sound IP strategy is a key element in avoiding and fighting against infringement and unfair competition practices carried out by competitors. 

In this new case study, TNtech, a Slovakian SME, tells us about the main measures adopted within the framework of its IP strategy and shares some useful advice with us. 

EUIPO study: "Protecting Innovation Through Trade Secrets and Patents: Determinants for European Union Firms"

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, has recently released an EU-wide study entitled "Protecting Innovation Through Trade Secrets and Patents: Determinants for European Union Firms".

This study uses data from the Community Innovation Survey for 24 Member States, which examines the economic importance of trade secrets and their relationship with patents.

Three main findings emerge from this study :

  • The use of trade secrets is higher than the use of patents for most types of companies (although it is particularly prevalent among SMEs), in most economic sectors and in all Member States.
  • Market novelty and innovation in tangible goods are associated with a preference for patents while process and service innovations are more often protected through secrecy.
  • There is complementarity between the use of trade secrets and patents—many companies use both methods to protect their innovations.

These results will provide a basis for policy-makers and companies to further develop policies in this area following the adoption of the Trade Secrets Directive in 2016.

Trade secrets: An efficient tool for competitiveness

A trade secret is confidential information in the context of business, commerce or trade. Trade secrets often constitute valuable resources to many companies whose assets may, for instance, not be patentable but have a great commercial value and therefore need to be protected.

This fact sheet illustrates the importance of trade secrets for businesses and provides insight into trade secret protection, which could prove beneficial in particular to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

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Directive for the protection of trade secrets in the European Union

Last week the European Parliament has approved the text of a proposed Directive for the protection of trade secrets in the European Union.  Once approved by the European Council, the Directive will be binding on all EU member states and will require member states to enact national legislation that meets certain minimum requirements for the protection of trade secrets.

The directive introduces an EU-wide definition of “trade secret”, meaning information which is secret, has commercial value because it is secret, and has been subject to reasonable steps to keep it secret.

Furthermore, it would oblige EU member states to ensure that victims of misuse of trade secrets are able to defend their rights in court and to seek compensation.

The approved text of the Directive is available here.

 

Managing confidentiality when starting a business

Before starting the development of commercial activities with the support of external business partners, it is crucial to protect confidential information that can have a significant economic value. Any leakage of such information may cause irrevocable outcomes for businesses, especially during the initial stages of business development.
 
With this case study, you will discover how the Romanian entrepreneur, Monica Talpalaru, benefited from the European IPR Helpdesk services in managing confidential information when setting up her new enterprise.
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Protecting Intellectual Property in "The Cloud"

Fast evolving technologies and needs for better cooperation and communication make use of “the cloud” often than ever. However, from the IP point of view the cloud brings many risks as well as it creates a potential silver lining in terms of data security. WIPO Magazine’s interesting article on how the cloud can strengthen IP protection reveals a new IP safeguard key for today’s new IP world.

You can find the article here.

ICC IP research paper on trade secrets

The contribution of trade secrets to knowledge diffusion and collaborative innovation is the focus of the latest intellectual property research paper from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

This latest paper aims to inform policymakers about shortcomings in existing frameworks for trade secret protection, which can undermine cross-border collaboration. It comes amid growing awareness among companies of their vulnerability to the theft of confidential business information.

For further information and to freely download the paper, please click here.

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New OECD paper on trade secrets

The OECD has published a new paper on trade secrets: "Uncovering Trade Secrets - An Empirical Assessment of Economic Implications of Protection for Undisclosed Data".

This paper finds that "there has been a notable increase in the stringency of trade secrets protection in a broad sample of countries" in recent years and that "there is a positive association between the stringency of trade secrets protection and key indicators of innovation and international economic flows".

To read this paper, please click here.

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Confidentiality considerations during project preparation

To enable more efficient administration in setting up a Horizon 2020 proposal, a consortium has agreed to make use of cloud server software, where all partners could easily keep in contact with each other and share information.

However, one of the SMEs involved in these negotiations was concerned about the disclosure of information to the partners through the cloud without any prior agreement between the partners. At the same time, however, the period for the preparation of the proposal was of six months duration and therefore the SME was concerned about finding an easy and quick solution, to avoid losing time that should be used for the preparation of the proposal.

In this case study you can see how this consortium easily overcame confidentiality concerns and was able to reach an optimal solution for all partners involved.

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Council agrees its position on the protection of trade secrets

The Council of the European Union, in its composition of EU ministers responsible for competitiveness, adopted a general approach on the draft directive protecting against the theft of confidential business information.

The general approach adopted by the Council establishes a minimum level of harmonisation of civil laws across the EU, while giving member states the scope to apply stricter measures if necessary. It sets the limitation period for an action by the plaintiff at six years and guarantees the confidentiality of legal proceedings. It also aligns principles and legal definitions with existing international agreements. 

The general approach paves the way to start negotiations with the European Parliament with a view to reaching an agreement at first reading. The European Parliament has not delivered its opinion yet.

For more information, please click here.

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