A European Commission official, a senior economist from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and leading German companies and trade associations participated in a June 12 roundtable event on trade secrets organized by CREATe.org in Berlin.
The roundtable focused on the topic of trade secret theft and supply chain compliance. The gathering sparked a lively discussion among participants about the increasing importance of trade secrets, and the need to address growing threat of IP theft more effectively.
A few statistics provide insights into why this is an important area of interest:
- According to research by The Conference Board, company executives worry about theft of trade secrets more than any other type of intellectual and intangible property – 68% believe they have ‘extensive risk’ in this area.
- Worryingly, only 36% rate their company programs effective when it comes to protecting trade secrets in the supply chain.
- More than half (51%) think that business solutions are more effective in addressing such risks than informal actions (37%), lawsuits (30%) or other enforcement procedures (27%).
A few key insights emerged from the discussion:
- Governments are increasingly looking to help business protect trade secrets. The European Commission is studying the possibility of EU-wide legislation, and the OECD is doing economic research into the problem at the request of its member countries.
- Participants expressed the view that none of the European laws currently in place seem to contain all of the elements needed to address trade secret theft effectively.
- Action among the private-sector itself is vital for implementing mechanisms to encourage trade-secret protection and compliance in the supply chain.
At the event, CREATe.org’s Allen Dixon discussed the content of a whitepaper we developed on trade secrets. He explained how a whole range of management systems already in place in many companies to manage compliance in various areas – for example, in quality control, labor standards, and environmental protection – are relevant to protecting and managing supply-chain risks related to trade secrets and intellectual property (IP).
He also described how the CREATe.org service is helping companies and their suppliers conduct self-assessments, receive independent evaluations, and ‘measure and improve’ their systems for protecting trade secrets and IP.
This month’s trade-secrets roundtable in Germany is the first of a series planned in different countries. To download a copy of the CREATe.org whitepaper on trade secret theft, click here. For further information about the CREATe.org service and how to participate, click here.