SCLA 1st Insight Talk: Legal Practice of Trade Secret Protection



On February 6, 2021, the first edition of the SCLA Insight Talk was successfully held. The event was co-organized by SCCLA and the International Intellectual Property Commercialization Council (IIPCC). The event focused on the legal practice topic of trade secret protection, with Richard Thurston, former Executive Vice Chairman and General Counsel of TSMC, as the panelist, and Xiaobing Tang, former Senior Counselor of WTO, Hermann Knott, Partner of the Kunz Law Firm, and Johnson Kong, Executive Director of IIPCC, as the guest commentators.

The 38 invited delegates were prominent legal leaders from law firms in China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, and other countries. The invited Chinese delegates included Li Libin, Partner of Zhong Lun Law Firm, Yan Penghe, Senior Partner of Beijing Zhong Yin Law Firm, Qian Liang of Jiangsu Chu Qian Law Firm, Zhou Zhengping, Senior Partner of Dacheng Law Firm, Huang Yuhong of Guangxi Tongcheng Law Firm, Fu Qiangguo of Shanghai Watson & Band Law Firm, Liang Huixin of Guangdong Deng Ding Law Firm, Chen Wenjin of Chang An (Shanghai) Law Firm and Advisor of Shanghai GLINKS Law Firm. Mr. Xu Haoming, Professor of School of International Law of China University of Political Science and Law, etc.

In the keynote speech, Mr.Du Dongyou shared the topic of “Trade Secrets – An Asset Like an Orphan: The Intersection of Private/Public Enforcement and Multilateral Decision Making.” He discussed the value and inspiration of trade secret protection regarding the balance between patents and trade secrets, the importance of trade secrets for future global competitiveness, and international multilateral rules and enforcement. He shared the challenges of trade secret protection with a case from 2006. Finally, he pointed out that company training on trade secrets should be enhanced globally. Some should be mandatory for all employees, including creating and maintaining internal trade secret databases (proof of existence (POE), etc.

Delegates spoke enthusiastically and engaged in lively discussions with the guests. For example, regarding the protection of trade secrets of employees who jump ship in the field of corporate law, lawyers from China, the United States, Italy, and Germany made remarks to discuss the most effective measures to protect trade secrets from the perspective of their respective countries’ handling of this issue. For example, lawyers from various countries jointly discussed the legislation and penalties on trade secrets at the criminal law level, the new challenges of trade secret protection in the “work from home” model in the epidemic environment, and the protection of trade secrets in the blockchain field. Furthermore, in the free speech session of the dialogue, each lawyer received responses and suggestions from other lawyers, even from lawyers of different countries, on the issues raised. In the common discussion environment, lawyers can expand their own eyes as legal professionals and increase their knowledge of legal affairs, which is the charm of the LCC Dialogue.

As special guests, former WTO Senior Counselor Xiaobing Tang, Partner Hermann Knott from the Kunz Law Firm, and Johnson KONG from IIPCC made their concluding remarks. They expressed that in the context of the technology era and global diversification, trade secret protection has been paid more and more attention by more and more countries and companies. However, countries have different legal protection mechanisms regarding trade secrets, which is a challenge for foreign lawyers. There is still a long way to solve this problem, so a cross-border exchange on this topic, such as today, seems very meaningful. They hope that the Swiss-Chinese Law Association will hold more similar dialogue and exchange activities so that more foreign lawyers can benefit from the results of such dialogue in their practice. 

The Swiss-Chinese Law Association was founded in 2019 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It promotes legal understanding and cooperation between Switzerland and China by facilitating exchanges between lawyers, academics, public and private sectors in international investment, dispute resolution, M&A restructuring, public policy, and international organization relations. The goal of SCCLA is to become a global community, a global vision, and a global voice for Swiss and Chinese lawyers. With a membership of more than 160 members representing various professions from over 14 countries, SCCLA is also committed to advocating and building a more transparent and high-standard legal market and legal services system. Its publication, the Swiss-Chinese Law Review, is well known in the industry.  

The International Intellectual Property Commercialization Council (IIPCC) is a non-profit organization registered in Hong Kong. In 2014, IIPCC was a global, non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization based in Hong Kong. It is the first global international intellectual property (IP) commercialization multidisciplinary NGO headquartered in Asia. It is widely supported by many governmental and non-governmental organizations, including professionals and innovators in various fields. The IIPCC currently has dozens of chapters and over 2,000 expert members worldwide and is an observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

(Written by Fengchi ZENG)