In this blog, we would focus on what basically are trade secrets and how this era of pandemic has gradually ignited an iota of doubt among proprietors of these secrets, especially business tycoons, regarding keeping and maintenance of these secrets.
Trade secrets are a well-recognized intellectual property explicitly on confidential data, which can either be sold or be misused to dig of the competitiveness of that company. This form of corporate war rather resembles the one regarding nuclear technologies in the political fronts.
The rise of this Covid-19 pandemic has made us face unique and unparalleled challenges for the on-going need of protecting the confidential data and maintaining the secrecy of the trade secrets.
The novel virus has effectively resulted in a mass house-arrest worldwide! Businesses which were breaking records in terms of revenue, are now suffering huge loses. Take the example of the garment industry in Philippines. Lockdown has truly brought the entire industry to its knees with over 6000 stalls in Manila, now permanently closed. Many start-ups are almost destroyed completely and some of their peers, who have managed to somehow sail through, are still fighting a struggle of survival. The mantra for survival is now to connect to virtual platforms and somehow move to the alternate reality! However, slowly as time elapsed, we became aware that these video conferencing are not that safe and any confidential information can potentially be at a risk of being disclosed to a third party. Accessing of the confidential data outside of office premises can lead to serious repercussions. Even after setting the security to its max, there can be some legal implications that one should definitely consider.
In this world, we face stiff competition each day, every day. Imagine the condition and state of a company who has just lost its significance and its competitiveness in the market because of the lack of encryption in the video conferencing.
The basic understanding of the trade secrets is globally revolving around the TRIPS. Trade secrets are confidential data which has been kept undisclosed and should remain a secret at all costs. People tend to take certain measures to keep the confidentiality of the information. Assets are a boon and it is said that, when invested in a right direction asset tend to multiply their value. Just like any other assets, intellectual property is also a valuable asset, which is not exactly purchased but can only be created. Trade secrets are mostly its valuable ingredients.
For instance, the software giant, Google is one of the most valued global corporations. It primarily provides various software-based services, which makes our lives well-connected. What is their mantra behind it? Well, that is their trade secret, not anything and everything needs to be disclosed out loud. Even their search engine algorithm is an intellectual property and these companies have worked hard and also invested money in order to protect such intangible property time to time and that is how it works.
More so, Coca Cola does the same with its world-renowned recipe, which it has kept secretly in a vault which is trade secret. If the secret recipe would have been disclosed, then anyone could’ve made it by their own but the nightmare didn’t turn to be real and people there don’t simply burst out of what they have or what they know and that too for a better cause.
But the question is not how a company is protecting its data, the question is that in these situations of social distancing and lockdowns it has made difficult for us to physically meet someone and that is where all that threat/ insecurities comes to our minds. Keeping the secrecy of these trade secrets in this virtual era has posed number innovative challenges in the recent times.
There are two hard questions here: First, to what extent, are these software’s responsible for the miss happenings with the confidential trade secrets? And how do we protect these secrets now?
Having the knowledge of what you have and how can you make use of it, is an essential part. You need to know that what all things need a protection under the ambit of intellectual property rights. Along with the identification of this you need to also confirm that your creation is unique and something which is not common and something which cannot be discovered with a logical reasoning. A creation is a work which is far from plagiarism.
Monitoring of the servers which contain the information is the most important part of keeping the data safe and secure. Keeping it safe requires both, efforts as well as money. Getting the latest software’s and updating to the latest firmware’s makes it difficult for the hackers to enter into the system. Limiting the accessibility to the data and not allowing many people access it is one way of maintaining its safety because these days, lot of us are working form homes and this is where the threat to the data arises. For instance, some people must be using an unstable Wi-Fi network which will straight away allow anyone to filter in through it and steal the data.
For instance, Apple is one those companies who make their employees who have recently joined to work on fake projects. By making them work on such projects they check that how efficient they are and how they work in a pressure situation, but here’s the thing, alongside all this, the main thing they observe is the credibility of that employee and the loyalty of a person towards his work and towards the place he is working in. This is how Apple is able to protect its information which is confidential and hence, is able to maintain a competitive environment in the market.
Trade secrets are just the secret about which, the general mass is unaware. These secrets are never registered on board or accessible to the people. In this way the creators make sure that their secret is not a ticking bomb. The protection of such secrets is solely in the hands of the party who has it, unlike in the case of patents and copyrights. These trade secrets also carry a commercial value, which can even act as collateral when required.
Author: Triman Goel, 3rd year, LLB, Lloyd Law College