Have you considered trade secrets as a way to protect your business? Coreena Brinck, European Patent Attorney and UK Patent Attorney and a Fellow of the UK Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), has authored an article on “Risks and rewards of trade secrets in Europe”. The article first appeared in IAM Innovation & Invention Yearbook: Building IP value in the 21st century, a supplement to IAM, published by Law Business Research - IP Division.
Coreena, who should read your article?
Coreena Brinck: -Anyone accountable for the way intangible assets are handled in a company – from board level, to CXOs, to HR and anyone who might become aware of a trade secret through their employment. The need for firm-wide policies to handle confidential information has long been established but the way that trade secrets and ISO27001 requirements raise the bar and could impose further constraints and requirements on firm-wide behaviours is less well-known.
Under what circumstances do trade secrets trump patents when one seeks to protect intangible assets?
Coreena: -A trade secret can include commercial information which is not technical, for example, certain types of information including databases and other data collections which have more value if kept secret. This could include certain recipes, customer lists or technically related information. Patent rights are only available for technology innovations which are kept confidential until a patent is filed and which meet the strict requirements for patentable-subject matter and will always be eventually published. A trade secret may better serve as a way to protect certain types of technology which would not need to be made public unless patented. Of course, concerns about losing employees who are aware of a technology trade secret as well as competitior activity in the same patent space often tip the balance towards seeking patent rights where these could be available.
Which are the best-guarded and most valuable trade secrets that come to your mind?
Coreena: -Certain types of training data generated by and used for some types of artificial intelligence systems are quite likely these days to be more valuable than other well known trade secrets like the CocaCola™ recipe, the Google™ algorithms, certain chemical formulae, such as for glues, and also other well-known recipes for food-related substances.
You joined Zacco this May. How would you summarise your first six months at Zacco?
Coreena: -Challenging but hugely enjoyable. I’ve met lots of colleagues “on-line” and have had to push more to use virtual marketing channels to raise the profile of Zacco’s UK office and my own capabilities due to the current Covid situation. This has brought its own rewards but I have to say, at times, living in the various UK lockdowns has been highly frustrating.
To read Coreena’s new article, please go here.
Other articles authored by Coreena Brinck: