Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 8/11/2010 04:20:00 PM

What Keeps IP Counsel Up at Night? Trade Secret Loss in China

By Todd has an interesting piece suggesting that trade secret loss to China is the primary thing keeping corporate IP counsel up at night. Here's an excerpt from the piece:

They (in-house counsel meeting in San Francisco during an ABA meeting) talked in-depth about how they deal with their biggest and most important concern -- protecting their companies’ trade secrets. It’s a growing challenge, they said, whether it’s during litigation or when doing business overseas. Gary Loeb, vice president of intellectual property at Genentech, Inc., said that during litigation he fights aggressively to keep his company’s secret information confidential. “It’s a battle we take very seriously,” he said. “It’s something that makes our cases very expensive.”

Scott Piering, senior IP lawyer at Cargill, Incorporated, said he often seeks to try cases before the International Trade Commission instead of in U.S. federal court because information can be sealed more easily. “The ITC is a great venue for us,” he said.

Cargill has had less success keeping their trade secrets secret when doing business in China. Dealing with corporate espionage is just the price of doing business there, he said. So his company doesn’t take its best trade secrets to China, but Cargill has taken some calculated risks in the country, and said it’s expected that trade secrets will be stolen. “It keeps me up at night constantly,” he said.

Robert Lindefjeld, general counsel and chief IP counsel for Nantero, Inc., said he hasn’t figured out how to deal with corporate spying in China either. His strategy is to just maintain a strong patent portfolio in China. “I used to file every single patent overseas,” he said. “Now I only file key patents because it’s so expensive.”


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