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Trade Secrets: Protecting Your Key Assets

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Craig Moss
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Re: Real world
Craig Moss   7/1/2014 7:26:48 AM
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There are a lot of interesting threads to this conversation. Identifying and protecting trade secrets should be a critical part of any company's IP protection stragegy. In today's world of contract manufacturing and collaborative development, this is more and more difficult - but also more important. The legal approach to trade secret protection is one important component, but this needs to be supplemented by using a management system approach. Companies need to find a way to embed IP protection in their business operations and make it a proactive effort. The legal/contract approach tends to be reactive. In the real world IP infringement can happen through intentional acts, but too often it is the result of poor management, a lack of awareness and sloppy IP protection practices. Companies can proactively prevent IP infringement and trade secret leakage through better management systems. Think of the overall improvements in quality over the past 30 years based on management systems. Also, the companies that develop strong IP protection management systems will definitely gain a competitive advantage in the global economy in attracting customers and investors. Customers will feel more comfortable that their trade secrets and IP will be protected. Investors will feel more comfortable that the company can protect their own valuable trade secrets. I believe this is true for companies from the US, China, Germany, India or anywhere else. 

Eldredge
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Formally recognize trade secret contributions
Eldredge   6/28/2014 11:03:08 AM
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Identify the company's intellectual assets by conducting a strategic assessment of trade secrets.

Many companies spend a great deal of time identifying patentable ideas, and often provide incentive programs to employees that contribute. Often, identification of a trade secret is given equal value to that of a patentable idea. I have heard of at least one company that values a trade secret higher than a patent, to encourage employees to diligently idenify them.

Eldredge
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Re: Real world
Eldredge   6/28/2014 10:46:53 AM
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I read a statistic that 97 percent of products never make back the money invested in the patent. that's sobering right?

@Hailey,

   That is a sobering statisitic. Some possible reasons may include:


1) Inventor did not have the funding/know-how or fotitude to pursue marketing of his/her product. If you think the patent is expensive......

2) Inventor simply wanted bragging rights to a patent (subset of above?)

3) Many patents are extensions or improvments of a product that already has some functionality covered in a previous patent.

4) Many large companies develop large patent portfolios in areas of technology to allow them to engage in negotiating cross-licensing. These patents hold value for the company, but I suspect many of them never provide 'payback' in the product maretplace.

TaimoorZ
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Re: Cross-country IP protection
TaimoorZ   6/28/2014 5:24:34 AM
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"In our pilot program, we found that many Chinese companies are keen to show that they take IP protection seriously to global customers, but also for protecting IP that they are developing."

@Craig: I spent 6 months in China last year as part of an exchange program and I did attend a lot of seminars on IP protection in China. The Chinese authorities and the business community has realized the importance of it and how important it is for them to implement copyright laws for long-term sustaibility. However, what I felt was that their approach was very much short-term oriented. They were looking for quick measures to resolve the issue rather than looking at the problem in more detail and having long-term sustainable solutions.

Jacob
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Re: Cross-country IP protection
Jacob   6/27/2014 1:16:45 AM
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"In our pilot program, we found that many Chinese companies are keen to show that they take IP protection seriously to global customers, but also for protecting IP that they are developing."

Craig, Chinese people's are good in protecting their IP rights and foe stealing others IPs.

Jacob
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Re: Real world
Jacob   6/27/2014 1:11:30 AM
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"I'm not sure we have a  better way yet. It's an interesting statistic though."

Hailey, If you don't want to file patent, I think there is NO  way other than hiding the IPR from public; which is of No use.

Hailey Lynne McKeefry
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Re: Cross-country IP protection
Hailey Lynne McKeefry   6/26/2014 11:38:58 PM
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@Craig, i imagine too that if electronics industry leaders start making a concerted effort to create and apply these policies that it would decrease the amount of IP theft rather substantially over time. Many small drops eventually fill the bucket.

Craig Moss
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Re: Cross-country IP protection
Craig Moss   6/26/2014 7:24:16 PM
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@TaimoorZ: Thanks for your comment - that is a great question. We are proponents of working with key suppliers to first assess current business processes in place for IP protection; and then work to improve the management systems in place for IP protection – for example, having IP protection policies, then associated procedures and records to support those policies. This is just one example, there is also training, monitoring and other steps companies can take. You might be interested in my EBN Online post about a recent Stanford report that talks about how companies can apply a capability building approach to IP protection, as it has been done in areas of labor and the environment. In our pilot program, we found that many Chinese companies are keen to show that they take IP protection seriously to global customers, but also for protecting IP that they are developing.

TaimoorZ
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Supply Network Guru
Re: Real world
TaimoorZ   6/26/2014 4:24:37 AM
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"In fact many a small companies encourage such espionage on other comapnies to get the competition information."

@prabhakar: I've seen that happening myself and I don't think putting up restrictions is really a way to deal with it. From what I think, the only way to ensure your employees do not end up spilling information is to educate them and make them realize the consequences of it on the company. Of course you have to ensure that your employees are happy and loyal and that they don't feel the need to partner with the competitors.

TaimoorZ
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Supply Network Guru
Cross-country IP protection
TaimoorZ   6/26/2014 4:21:59 AM
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@Craig: Interesting post. Given the rate at which companies are looking to outsource their business processes to other countries, the challenges of IP protection have multiplied. A large number of copyright infringement incidents are happening in countries like China where the parent company has no control and the local laws are not so well-developed to cater to this issue. How would you suggest a global company deal with it?

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