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Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, IIUM. KEEPING CONFIDENCE: PUTTING IN PLACE A TRADE SECRET PROTECTION PROGRAM. PROF. DR. IDA MADIEHA BT. ABD. GHANI AZMI PRIVATE LAW DEPARTMENT IIUM. Outline of presentation. Economic importance of SMEs in Malaysia Role of trade secrets

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keeping confidence putting in place a trade secret protection program

Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, IIUM

KEEPING CONFIDENCE: PUTTING IN PLACE A TRADE SECRET PROTECTION PROGRAM

PROF. DR. IDA MADIEHA BT. ABD. GHANI AZMI

PRIVATE LAW DEPARTMENT

IIUM.

outline of presentation
Outline of presentation
  • Economic importance of SMEs in Malaysia
  • Role of trade secrets
  • Law of trade secrets in Malaysia
    • Breach of confidential information
    • Essential features
    • Sample of decided cases

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

economic importance of smes
Economic importance of SMEs
  • Integral component to Malaysian economy
  • Challenges
    • Increased liberalisation
    • New entrants to the market
    • Technological development
    • THUS, need to remain competitive

Def:sme_definitions_english.pdf

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

economic importance
Economic importance
  • As at 2003, there were 523,132 establishments in the manufacturing, services and agriculture sectors,
  • 518,996 (99.2%) comprised SMEs
  • A no. of SMEs in the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry, as well as precision plastics components, stamping, tooling and machining activities, have evolved to become global suppliers to MNCs.

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

sme s role in maintaining malaysia s competitive edge in ip
US Trademarks Granted to OIC Based Countries

Trademarks 2000-2004

Turkey 168 Saudi Arabia 21

Malaysia 107 Egypt 12

Indonesia 96 Guyana 11

Nigeria 44 Kuwait 10

UAE 33 Syria 10

Mauritius 32

Iran 30

Pakistan 30

Lebanon 28

Jordan 21

Source: www.uspto.gov

SME’s role in maintaining Malaysia’s competitive edge in IP

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

where are we in the muslim world
Where are we in the Muslim world?
  • US Patents Granted to OIC Based Inventions
  • Patents 1977-2004
  • Malaysia 547 Nigeria 29
  • Saudi Arabia 212 Pakistan 26
  • Indonesia 162 Jordan 20
  • Turkey 144 Kazakhstan 16
  • Kuwait 78 Syria 14
  • UAE 42
  • Lebanon 42 Source: www.uspto.gov.
  • Iran 32
  • Morocco 30
  • Nigeria 29

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

challenges to smes
Challenges to SMEs
  • (a) limited involvement in R & D Activities
    • Only 59.4% -process improvement
    • 44% - new product development
    • 21.9% - innovation and technology
      • Only 19% registered their trade marks and 3% patents

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

constraints
Constraints
  • (b) lack of technical, professional and management expertise and entrepreneurial skills
    • Inability to attract and retain suitable talents
    • Need for proper human capital management
    • Best business practices in terms of maintaining co’s competitive advantage

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

importance of trade secrets in competitive environment
Importance of trade secrets in competitive environment
  • Like gold nuggets – almost all business has it!
  • Maintaining ‘lead’and ‘competitive edge’ in business but also crucial to your existence
  • Stop others from undercutting business
  • Leakage of info
  • Pinching customers
  • Unfair competition from ex employees or business partner

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

importance of trade secrets
Importance of trade secrets
  • Applicable for start ups – higher up the value chain! Even for small scale bus. or home bus.! Small-scale Food Processing Enterprises In Malaysia.htm
  • Estimated loss of $50 billion annual loss to Fortune 1000 companies to trade secret theft
    • Product development, product localization
    • Franchise, licensing and technology transfer
    • Manufacture of goods under contract
    • R & D
    • Customer’s list, sales list, etc.
    • Business plans, formula, ingredient, bid etc.

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

slide13

Copyright

Industrial design

Integrated Circuits

Patents

Confidential Information

Trade Marks

Technical report or specification

x

x

x

Engineering drawing on paper

x

Engineering drawing on screen

x

Electrical Device

x

x

x

Mechanical Device

x

x

x

x

Computer program

x

x

x

Manufacturing method

x

x

x

x

Test method

x

x

x

x

Name of product

x

x

x

x

x

Pictorial design or logo

x

x

x

x

Interface between the various IPRs

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

slide14

The bare idea, in the inventor’s mind only

Discussion with friends and colleagues

Idea expressed in tangible form, e.g. in writing, on drawings, in a computer memory

Preliminary negotiations with potential manufacturers

Patent application (assumed successful)

 Further negotiations with potential manufacturers

Put invention into production and sell articles made to it

Establish a reputation associated with the product

Confidence

***

 Maintain air of confidence

 Maintain air of confidence

Only in respect of things not disclosed in the patent application

Copyright

  ***

Protected for author’s life plus 50 years

Patent

 ***

From priority date

Up to a maximum of 20 years

Trade marks

  ***

If applied for

For as long as renewed

Passing off

***

For as long as reputation associated with article

Table 1.4 The life of an invention

Stage in the life of an invention Form of intellectual property right

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

choosing between patents and trade secrets
Choosing between patents and trade secrets

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

patent v trade secret
PATENT v TRADE SECRET

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

patent v trade secrets
PATENT v TRADE SECRETS

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

law of confidential information in malaysia brief
Law of confidential information in Malaysia: brief
  • Confidential information
  • Basic elements
  • Duty of confidentiality
    • ‘fiduciary’
    • Business relationship
  • Mode of securing confidentiality
    • Physical steps (keys and locks)
    • Contract

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

overview
overview
  • Law not codified
  • Law very fluid, case law based
  • Breach either on contract or equity or both
  • Courts have been very adverse towards any business info theft (at least in Malaysia)
  • Civil remedies not criminal

industrial espionage Silicon Valley Man Sentenced to Economic Espionage Act Violation Relating to Intel Trade Secrets (December 11, 2001).htm

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

confidential information defined
Confidential information: defined
  • Electro Cad Australia Pty Ltd & 2 Ors v Mejati RCS Sdn Bhd & Ors [1998] 3 AMR 2555
    • Confidential information is generally information which is the object of an obligation of confidence and is used to cover all information of a confidential character. This includes:
    • (i) trade secrets
    • (ii) literary and artistic secrets
    • (iii) Personal secrets
    • (iv) public and government secrets.

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

types of information
Types of information
  • Classes of information classified as ‘confidential information’ is endless
  • business, information
    • Sales information, marketing techniques
  • Photograph, equipment
  • Technology, technical secrets, know-how (know who!), formula, recipe
  • Government secrets
  • Personal information
    • Marital relationship (or extra marital!)
    • Private collection
    • Private life of celebrities

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

classes of information
Common knowledge

Available easily

Public source

Confidential information

Not known to the public

Limited access

valuable

Classes of information

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

criteria value of information
Criteria: value of information
  • 2 levels: acquiring and developing info and maintaining info.
  • To what extent is known to others
  • Value of the information
    • The time, labour and expenditure spent to develop a certain information
  • Ease or difficulty of which to attain in the information
  • Extent of measures taken to maintain its secrecy
  • How readily the information could be properly acquired, duplicated or reverse engineered by others

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

relevant factors
Relevant Factors
  • The Law of Intellectual Property: Staniforth Ricketson:
    • (1) the extent to which the information is known outside his (the owner’s) business;
    • (2) the extent to which it is known by employees and other involved in his business;
    • (3) The extent of measures taken by him to guard the secrecy of the information;
    • (4) the value of the information to him and his competitors;
    • (5) the value of effort or money expended by him in developing the information;
    • (6) the ease or difficulty with which the information could be properly acquired or duplicated by others (i.e. by their independent endeavours).

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

essential requirements coco v an clark engineering ltd 1969 rpc 41
Essential requirements: Coco v AN Clark (Engineering) Ltd [1969] RPC 41
  • (a) that the information was of a confidential nature,
  • (b) that it was communicated in circumstances imparting an obligation of confidence, and
  • (c) that there was an unauthorised use of information

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

duty of confidentiality
Duty of confidentiality
  • Includes information imparted in the course of business
    • Eg technical specifications and design, operation of a product and source of manufacturing materials, equipment and parts
    • Yeohata Industries Sdn Bhd v Coil Master Sdn Bhd [2001] 6 CLJ 418
      • Mosquito coil making machine, info acquired under licence agreement
      • Marketing strategy of the P
      • Customers list and portfolio
      • Cost of production and marketing
      • Pricing strategy
      • Supply of materials, equipment and parts

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

security measures
Security measures
  • Keep in secured place
  • ‘NO ENTRANCE
  • LIMITED ACCESS
  • Security measures
  • Security check
  • Key! ‘CONFIDENTIAL’
  • Cost!

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

security measures30
Security measures

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

contract keeping confidential information under wraps
Contract: keeping confidential information under wraps
  • Maintaining ‘confidentiality’
  • Especially for workers, raw materials supplier, distributor and all involved
  • Cost of maintenance!
  • ‘biar pecah diperut jangan pecah dimulut!’
  • Sample:Sample Contracts - Manufacturing Agreement - Handspring Inc_ and Flextronics (Malaysia) SDN_BHD - Competitive Intelligence for Investors.htm

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

contract non disclosure agreements
Contract : Non Disclosure Agreements
  • Clear terms
  • Binds action, time and place
  • All key figures must be identified
    • Eg employees, business partners
    • Any third parties

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

sample clauses
Sample clauses
  • at no time shall the meetings, discussions, advice and/or amendments to be made known or in any way disclosed to any other individual or company and shall be treated as strictly confidential.

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

contractual remedies35
Contractual remedies
  • Breach of contract
  • Civil suit and not criminal

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

fiduciary relationship
Fiduciary relationship
  • Always internal leakage
  • Fiduciary relationship
  • Rights arising from equity
  • Examples of fiduciary relationship
    • Lawyer
    • Banker
    • Accountant
    • Doctor

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

fiduciary relationship38
Fiduciary relationship
  • The higher you are in the company, the more stringent the duty is
  • Does not end with the termination of contract of employment, or employee leaving the company
  • Even in the absence of contract!
    • e.g ex director and consultant in Electro Cad Australia Pty Ltd– anti car theft device

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

mejati rcs sdn bhd
Mejati RCS Sdn. Bhd
  • A was the director of ABC Company. ABC has been offered to manufacture a new anti car theft product, ‘Stopcard’ Auto Theft Device. B, one of the director of ABC soon resigned and set up a different company DEF. DEF, later developed and offered to the public an anti-car theft product known as “Stop Car”. DEF claimed that the Stopcar product was derived from their own technology

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

mejati rcs
Mejati RCS
  • Held : by virtue of his position as a director, B owed certain fiduciary duties to ABC. The duties of a director are those fiduciary duties owed by senior officials of the company and as such are higher than those owed by employees and managers.
  • Obtaining information is akin to that of obtaining an advantage. A director will be precluded from using any advantage obtained by virtue of his position as a director, especially with regard to confidential information obtained, after he resigns, more so when his resignation is seen to have been motivated by a desire for himself the advantage actually sought by the company.

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

strategies
Strategies
  • Develop confidentiality policies
  • Educate personnel about the importance of trade secrets
  • Warn them of the consequences of breach
  • Implement creative barrier eg break a job into parts so that no single employee, division or supplier knows all the parts of a trade secret
  • Teach employees to look for signs of corporate espionage

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

human capital management43
Human Capital Management
  • Legally monitor business related channels of communication
  • Conduct checks to ensure compliance with corporate policies
  • Hold exit interviews, secure the return of all electronic equipment and remind them of the confidentiality of trade secrets

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

employee relationship non competing clause
Employee relationship: Non competing clause
  • Binds employees from working or dealing with rival company or divulging business secrets to competitor or set up competing co
    • Duty of fidelity and good faith!
  • Schmidt Scientific Sdn Bhd v Ong Han Suan[1998] 1 CLJ 685
    • Co deals with specialised imported equipment and instrument and sold them to various hospitals, research centers universities and industries
    • Employee left the co and set up a distributing co
    • Info pertaining to cost prices, quoted prices, specific needs and requirements of the customers and suppliers, status of all ongoing negotiations with customers and price list

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

chinese walls
Chinese walls
  • Par. for big companies with large no. of depts and employees
  • Chinese walls – set barricades to access of info - Prince Jefri Bolkiah v KPMG [1999] 2 AC 222.
      • P former chairman of an investment agency established to hold and manage the general reserve fund and external assets to the Govt. of Brunei
      • D, a firm of chartered accountants which has rendered accounting service to the P.
      • D appointed as agency to conduct investigation into the activities of the agency
      • Different team working on the case
      • Risk of inadvertent disclosure, files moving within the co

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

business dealing
Business dealing
  • Careful disclosure of information
    • cakap biar bertempat!’
  • Non disclosure agreement
  • Don’t disclose everything
  • Emphasize on the confidentiality
  • of the information
  • Importance of maintaining
  • competitive lead in
  • business

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

strategies48
Strategies
  • Record every meeting
  • Careful with documents
  • Follow up by correspondence
  • Monitor business partner’s business dealing
  • Your business partner can be your worst enemy!

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

in summary
In summary
  • Adopt the proper strategy
    • Business secrets are valuable and vulnerable!
    • Identify your trade secrets and take measures to protect them! (trade secret audit)
    • Maintain and enhance competitiveness
    • Capitalise on business opportunties
    • Crucial for all business enterprise from all sectors – from start ups to MNCs
    • Par for bus driven by technology and innovation
    • Need to adopt best business practices in retaining valuable information
    • Human capital management
    • Prudent relationship with 3rd parties

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

us economic espionage act 1996
US – Economic Espionage Act 1996
  • The term ‘trade secret’ means all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information, including patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes, whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing if
    • (a) the owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret; and
    • (b) the information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being general known to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by the public

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

economic espionage
Economic Espionage
  • Whoever, intending or knowing that the offense will benefit any foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent, knowingly
    • (1) steals, or without authorization appropriates, takes, carries away, or conceals, or by fraud, artifice, or deception obtains a trade secret;
    • (2) without authorization copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys a trade secret,
    • (3) receives, buys, or possesses a trade secret, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained or converted without authorization,
    • (4) attempts to commit any offense described in any of the above paragraphs.

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

theft of trade secrets
Theft of trade secrets
  • (a) whoever, with intent to convert a trade secret, that is related to or included in a product that is produced for or placed in interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof. And intending or knowing that the offense will injure any owner of that trade secret, knowingly-
    • (1) steals, or without authorization appropriates, takes, carries away, or conceals, or by fraud, artifice, or deception obtains such information
    • (2) without authorization copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys such information
    • (3) receives, buys, or possesses such information, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization;
    • Attempts to commit any offense described in para (1) to (3) above

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

points to ponder
Points to ponder
  • Should we criminalize theft of trade secrets as in USA?
  • Thank you

WIPO National Seminar on Enhancing Awareness and Building Capacity of SMEs

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