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Trade secrets as an IP asset: making confidentiality work for you

Traditionally, businesses have seen confidentiality of information as a risk to be mitigated. Who can I really trust with my secrets? And how can I stop them from cheating?

While these are valid concerns, more and more innovators are now also recognizing the potential of ‘trade secrets’ as an active intellectual property (IP) asset, alongside other forms of IP such as patents and trademarks. Well kept secrets will help you stay ahead of competitors. Or, depending on your strategy, you can license your secret know-how to others in exchange for royalties.

Different from most other types of IP, there is no upfront governmental procedure to assert the protection of a trade secret. Rather, as stipulated in a recent European directive, it is up to the owners of the information to ensure that they can prove that ‘reasonable’ protective measures are in place. Such protective measures can range from supplier contracts to staff trainings, and from physical barriers to accurate logging.

So what measures are necessary to ensure legal protection of your secret know-how? And how can you make sure that you have the relevant evidence available when needed? These are important questions to consider early on if you want to reap the benefits of trade secrets as a form of IP.

Are you curious how you can start making ‘confidentiality’ work for your business? To help you get started, please find more information, including a helpful checklist, on this website. Feel free to contact us to discuss the specifics of your situation with one of our patent attorneys or attorneys-at-law, at TradeSecretsDesk@vo.eu.

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Eline van Kappel

Eline van Kappel

  • European and Dutch Patent Attorney
  • Associate
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