The changing face of intellectual assets: Trade secrets and the Economic Espionage Act

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This chapter reviews a number of trends related to trade secrets as well as some data concerning how firms use the mechanism in the current competitive environment. The growth of knowledge management applications has led a number of firms to more broadly identify what they consider to be a valuable proprietary knowledge asset. Firms are also sharing vast amounts of data, information, and knowledge throughout e-networks connecting them with collaborators. At the same time, competitive intelligence activity, designed to uncover and take away such assets, has also grown apace. Given both trends, there is increasing interest in using trade secrets to try to keep these knowledge assets safe. The enactment of the Economic Espionage Act has further accelerated these trends by better defining trade secrets at the federal level and laying out specifics as to how to better manage them. We look at evidence of EEA prosecutions to establish the validity of these trends and other insights that might be drawn. Based on the data, it appears that firms are indeed looking to protect different types of knowledge such as databases, particularly related to customers, and strategic plans. And, of course, it also appears that competitors are interested in relieving them of such knowledge. © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Issues

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