With the emergence of new technologies and innovation, such as connected autonomous vehicles and EVs, the use of trade secrets has grown in importance in the automotive sector, due to the immediacy of the protection trade secrets law offers offer and its ability to cover all types of information.

Where other intellectual property (“IP”) rights require registration and lengthy application procedures, as long as the internal right policies are in place, trade secret protection can be invoked as and when needed and adapted as required. Trade secrets laws are therefore well suited to the protection of fast-paced innovation, and the information and data generated in this context. Indeed where other IP rights fail in enforcement terms, businesses can often fall back on trade secrets protection as a backstop.

It is now common for a small group of key employees to hold significant know-how extremely desirable to any competitor. Trade secrets provisions are also one of the main rights relied on to prevent dissemination of such know-how. Practical and technical restrictions should be put in place around how these sorts of employees can share key data and knowledge while in a business’ employment, as well as restrictions around the use of such knowledge once the employee leaves the business.

In light of the increased prominence of trade secrets in the automotive industry, this article in our series “Views on an evolving automotive industry”, provides an overview of key issues relating to the use of trade secrets to protect innovation, including setting out what constitutes a trade secret in the UK, Germany (EU), Australia and China, discussing employee risks, and advising on establishing a trade secrets protection strategy to reduce and police the risks of the loss of business critical know-how, and enforce rights in trade secrets.

Read the full briefing here.

See also these other IP related briefings in the Views on an evolving automotive industry series on:

Key contacts and authors

Roddy Martin
Roddy Martin
Partner, Global Head of Automotive, London
+44 20 7466 2255
Jonathan Turnbull
Jonathan Turnbull
Partner, IP, London
+44 20 7466 2174
Ina vom Feld
Ina vom Feld
Partner, IP, Dusseldorf
+49 211 975 5909
Nanda Lau
Nanda Lau
Partner, Head of Corporate, China
+86 21 23222117
Peng Lei
Peng Lei
Partner, IP, Shanghai
+86 21 2322 2113
Rebekah Gay
Rebekah Gay
Joint Global Head of IP, Sydney
+61 2 9225 5242
Emma Iles
Emma Iles
Partner, IP, Melbourne
+61 2 9225 5242
Lawrence Savell
Lawrence Savell
Professional Support Lawyer, New York
+1 917 542 7816
Christine Young
Christine Young
Partner, Employment, London
+44 20 7466 2845

Rachel Montagnon
Rachel Montagnon
Professional Support Consultant, IP
+44 20 7466 2217

Jessica Welborn
Jessica Welborn
Senior associate, IP, London
+44 20 7466 2243
Kevin Nebel
Kevin Nebel
Associate, IP, Dusseldorf
+49 211 975 59142
Alizee Zheng
Alizee Zheng
Senior associate, Corporate, China
+86 21 23222117
Sian McKinley
Sian McKinley
Senior Associate, Employment, London
+44 20 7466 2996
Mary Hughes
Mary Hughes
Associate, Corporate, London
+44 207 466 6403