SCLA Trade Secrets Global Online Summit – and the 11th SCLA Global Online Forum was successfully held on Friday, November 27, 2020, from 20.00-22.30 BST. The forum explored the relationship between trade secrets, technological innovation, and public interest in the wave of globalization. It also discussed the commercialization of trade secrets and intellectual property practices. More than 60 government representatives attend the forum, officials from international organizations, and senior legal practitioners from over 20 countries.
The meeting started with a welcome speech by Zhang Tianze, Director of SCLA, who reviewed the progress made by SCLA in the past year the values and mission of the association. He said their values, including the SCLA, drive all significant associations and organizations. Since its inception, the association has practiced two central values: First, to be a global community, a global voice, and a global vision connecting the legal profession in Asia and Europe. Second, to promote the value of lawyers in global rule-making. Since its establishment, SCLA has actively cooperated with UNCITRAL and UNCTAD.
Next, Mr. Johnson Kong (Sonny Kong), the Director of the World Intellectual Property Commercialization Council (IIPCC), gave a presentation on “International Standards for Trade Secrets.” He said that it should be determined what information should be considered a trade secret and the appropriate level of protection (and methods) for each type of trade secrets such as controlling access to trade secrets, including physical controls such as check-in systems and facility settings, and digital controls such as passwords, pop-up windows, network security, and policies for the use of information transmission devices such as flash drives. And digital controls such as passwords, pop-up windows, network security, and policies for the use of information transfer devices such as flash drives – Developing human resource policies to protect trade secrets should be incorporated into systematic thinking and decision making. However, trade secrets are being misused globally due to the lack of criteria for defining trade secrets.
Professor Carlos Correa, Executive Chairman of the South Center, gave a keynote speech on “Public Interest Protection in Trade Secrets.” He began by reviewing the history of multilateral negotiations on the WTO’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement. He said that intellectual property rights are not tools per se but rather a means to achieve social values. Next, after discussing the relationship between Article 7, Article 39, and Article 1 of TRIPS, he said that “undisclosed information” is not a “property right” but a fact-based issue, a monopoly of knowledge. Next, he discussed the desirability of protecting trade secrets from public interest. He says that there is no strong doctrine supporting the necessity of trade secret protection in the public interest. First, the protection of trade secrets is, in fact, the protection of a kind of “Blind Rights” (undefined rights). Second, in contrast to traditional intellectual property rights such as patents and trademarks, such protection is not time-barred. Therefore, there is no direct equivalence between trade secrets and the public interest.
On behalf of Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO, Marco Alleman, Director of the Patent Division of WIPO, expressed his gratitude to the Swiss-Chinese Law Association (SCLA) and SCLA for organizing this forum. After comparing Article 39 of TRIPS, he pointed out that the issue of trade secret protection is still largely ignored worldwide. Today’s world is facing a trend of digitalization, which brings an increased vulnerability of information and data. On the issue of trade secret protection, common law and civil law countries have adopted different approaches to protection, and the standards of protection vary from country to country. Since the introduction of the “Anti-Unfair Competition Law” in 1993, China has also gradually paid more attention to protecting trade secrets. The importance of trade secrets cannot be overstated. It is not only protecting large monopolistic enterprises but also protecting developing countries. He cited the example of Thailand’s rubber production industry where protecting the know-how of the extraction process of the hydrocarbon polymers through trade secrets is crucial for the local latex industry production.
Panel I – Balancing Public and Private Interests in Trade Secrets (from left, Hermann Knott, Partner, Andersen & Associates, Member, Swiss-Chinese Law Association; Marco Alleman, Director, Patent Division, WIPO; Francine Le Péchon-Joubert, Partner, Charles de Gaulle & Co. (Johnson Kong, Director of the World Intellectual Property Commercialization Council, Professor Carlos Correa, Executive Chairman of the South Center).