Trade secret

Applying for a patent is not always the most effective way to protect your technical innovation. There are situations in which secrecy is a better option.

When to keep it secret?

Keeping an innovation, know-how or craftsmanship secret is preferable to applying for a patent when, for example:

  • You want to keep the trade secret intact forever.
  • If your competitor cannot tell how the product is made by looking at it.
  • If certain important aspects of the product cannot be determined by analysis.

Advantages of a trade secret

You can keep a trade secret intact for an indefinite period of time (for example the recipe for Coca-Cola). When you apply for a patent, it will be published on the Internet after 18 months. When a patent is granted, the exclusive rights will stop after a maximum period of 21 years.

Trade Secret Directive

If you opt to keep your innovation, or part thereof, secret, we recommend that you arrange this in such a way that it meets the requirements laid down in the 'Trade Secret Directive'. This is an EU Directive, intended to prevent damage caused by the leaking of trade secrets or know-how. It also offers possibilities for obtaining damages in the event that this does happen. Among other things, it provides you with a legal weapon which you can use against a competitor who is trying to discover your trade secret by taking on one of your employees.

This is what EP&C can do for you

In order to be able to claim the rights offered by the Trade Secret Directive it is important to ensure that the trade secret is recorded and described properly and the procedure is handled with care. For this reason we will help you answer the following questions:

  • What does the trade secret involve?
  • Who has access to the trade secret?
  • How is the information relating to the trade secret handled?
  • What procedures are in place to guarantee that it is not disclosed?
  • Is the policy relating to secrecy assessed and updated on a regular basis?

EP&C can help you record your trade secret properly so that you have sufficient legal grounds for taking legal proceedings in the event of a breach.

Costs associated with a trade secret

We charge our hourly fee to record your trade secret in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Trade Secret Directive. Please feel free to contact one of our patent attorneys for a free estimate of the costs involved in your particular situation.