Protecting Innovation through Trade Secrets and Patents: Determinants for European Union Firms

innovationThe EUIPO through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights has launched a report on Protecting Innovation through Trade Secrets and Patents: Determinants for European Union Firms.

The report uses data from the Community Innovation Survey for 24 EU Member States to examine the economic importance of trade secrets and their relation with patents.

The study finds that the use of trade secrets is higher than the use of patents for most types of companies (although it is particularly prevalent among SMEs), in most economic sectors and in all Member States.

Market novelty and innovation in tangible goods are associated with a preference for patents while process and service innovations are more often protected through secrecy.

However, in general, the study finds that there is complementarity between the use of trade secrets and patents—many companies use both methods to protect their innovations.

The results of this study will provide a basis for policy-makers and companies to further develop policies in this area following the adoption of the Trade Secrets Directive in 2016.


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    The new EU trade mark Regulation enters into force on March 23rd. As a result, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) will change its name to the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

    The amending Regulation also revises the fees payable to the Office, including an overall reduction in their amounts, particularly in the case of trade mark renewal fees. On 23.3. 2016, the Office’s online application forms and fee calculator will be automatically updated to reflect the new system.
    From its base in Alicante, Spain, OHIM has processed more than 1.3 million Community trade mark applications in 23 EU languages, from nearly every country and region in the world, since 1996.

    The Amending Regulation was published on 24 December 2015 and is part of the EU trade mark reform legislative package that also includes the replacement of the existing EU Trade Mark Directive (Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and the Council).

    OHIM is the EU’s largest decentralised agency. It is entirely self-financed, receiving no funding from the EU Budget. As well as managing the Community trade mark and the registered Community design (RCD), it works in collaboration with the EU national and regional IP offices to build a stronger IP system across the EU for the benefit of users.

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