Recent Federal Decisions and Emerging Trends in U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act Litigation

I. Introduction

  The enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016[1] (the “DTSA”) marks a milestone in the recent development of trade secret law in the United States (“U.S.”).[2] Recent federal decisions and emerging trends in DTSA litigation regarding the following issues deserve the attention of Taiwanese companies who might be involved in DTSA litigation in U.S. federal courts (“federal courts”): (1) whether the DTSA displaces any other civil remedies provided by the existing trade secret laws; (2) whether a plaintiff should pay attention to any pleading standard when bringing a DTSA claim in federal court; (3) whether a federal court will easily grant an ex parte application for seizure order under the DTSA (an “ex parte seizure order”); and (4) whether the DTSA applies to trade secret misappropriations that occurred before the DTSA came into effect. This article provides insights into these developments and trends, and concludes with their implications at the end.

II. The DTSA does not displace any other civil remedies provided by the existing trade secret laws, and federal courts may nonetheless turn to pre-DTSA laws and decisions for guidance

  The DTSA states that it does not “preempt” or “displace” any other civil remedies provided by other federal and state laws for trade secret misappropriation.[3] Prior to the enactment of the DTSA, the civil protection and remedies of trade secrets in the U.S. have traditionally been provided under state laws.[4] The DTSA provides federal courts with original jurisdiction[5] over civil actions brought under the DTSA, giving trade secret owners an option to litigate trade secret claims in federal courts.[6] As a result, the DTSA adds a layer of protection for trade secrets and creates a federal path for plaintiffs to pursue civil remedies.[7]

  Some commentators point out that federal courts, when hearing DTSA claims, construing DTSA provisions or analyzing DTSA claims, oftentimes turn to state laws and decisions existing prior to the enactment of the DTSA for guidance.[8] Various decisions show that federal courts tend to look to local state laws and pre-DTSA decisions when hearing DTSA claims or making decisions.[9] This suggests that pre-DTSA trade secret laws and prior decisions remain an indispensable reference for federal courts.

III. A plaintiff should pay careful attention to the plausibility pleading standard when bringing a DTSA claim in federal court

  A plaintiff's pleading in his complaint must satisfy the plausibility pleading standard when the plaintiff brings a DTSA claim in federal court.[10] Otherwise, the plaintiff's complaint may be dismissed by the federal court.[11] Filing a motion requesting dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint[12] on the grounds of the plaintiff's failure of stating plausible claims for relief is thus a defense that a defendant may employ to defeat the plaintiff's claim in the early stage.[13]

  The DTSA opens the door of federal courts to trade secret plaintiffs to pursue civil remedies,[14] but the DTSA does not “guarantee unfettered access to the federal courts.”[15] When filing a DTSA lawsuit in federal court, a plaintiff must state “the grounds for the court's jurisdiction,” the plaintiff's claims (entitlement to relief), and the plaintiff's “demand for the relief sought” in his complaint.[16] The claim and statement pled by the plaintiff in his complaint must meet the “plausibility” threshold.[17] In other words, at the pleading stage, a plaintiff should plead facts sufficiently demonstrating that all prerequisites of his claim (e.g., jurisdiction and venue,[18] elements of a claim required by the DTSA,[19] etc.) are satisfied when bringing a DTSA claim in federal court.[20] For instance, in addition to claiming the existence of his trade secret, a plaintiff should state how his trade secret was misappropriated through improper means.[21] However, in the context of trade secrets, the plausibility pleading standard can be challenging to a plaintiff because it is never easy to balance between “satisfying the required pleading standard” and “avoiding disclosing too much information about the trade secret in a pleading.”[22]

  Let's take pleading the existence of a trade secret as an example. Under the plausibility pleading regime, a plaintiff is required to plead all relevant facts of trade secret (elements)[23] defined by the DTSA to affirmatively prove the existence of his trade secret.[24] In other words, a plaintiff needs to state sufficient facts indicating that the information in dispute has economic value while not being known to the public, and reasonable steps have been taken to maintain the secrecy of that information,[25] all of which plausibly suggest that the information in dispute qualifies as a trade secret.[26] Federal courts do not require a plaintiff to disclose his trade secret in detail in his complaint.[27] Nevertheless, a plaintiff should be able to provide the “general contour” of the alleged trade secret that he seeks to protect.[28] Federal courts would be reluctant to see that a plaintiff, merely “identify[ing] a kind of technology” or “point[ing] to broad areas of technology,” or barely asserting that the misappropriated information is confidential, then “invit[ing] the court to hunt through the details in search of items meeting the statutory definition.”[29] Instead of simply alleging that the subject matter at issue involves a trade secret, a plaintiff's complaint should contain descriptions identifying the plaintiff's trade secret.[30] For instance, in his pleading, a plaintiff has to tell what information is involved and what efforts have been made to maintain the confidentiality of such information.[31] For further example, a plaintiff should provide documents or information constituting the alleged trade secret rather than merely listing general topics or categories of information.[32]

IV. Obtaining a DTSA ex parte seizure order is challenging as federal courts tend to take a conservative approach to prevent abuse of this ex parte seizure remedy

  Since the DTSA came into effect, federal courts rarely grant an ex parte application for seizure order under the DTSA.[33] The provision for ex parte seizure orders is a controversial part of the DTSA[34] as it allows a court, upon ex parte application and if all DTSA requirements are met, to issue a civil order “for the seizure of property necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret.”[35] So far federal courts have been hesitant to order DTSA ex parte seizures and are giving great deference to the statutory text of the DTSA seizure order provision.[36] Only when a federal court finds it “clearly appears from specific facts” that certain requirements are met[37] and only in “extraordinary circumstances”[38] may a federal court issue an ex parte seizure order.[39] When being confronted with an ex parte application for seizure order under the DTSA, federal courts tend to favor a conservative approach to prevent the abuse of this ex parte seizure remedy.[40] If any alternative equitable relief is available to achieve the same purpose, federal courts will likely find it unnecessary to issue an ex parte seizure order.[41] In addition, a plaintiff's mere assertion that the defendant, if given notice, would destroy evidence or evade a court order, but without showing that the defendant “had concealed evidence or disregarded court orders in the past,” will likely be insufficient to persuade the court to issue an ex parte seizure order.[42] Furthermore, federal courts will decline to order an ex parte seizure if a plaintiff fails to meet his burden demonstrating that the information in dispute constitutes a trade secret.[43] All of the foregoing suggests that one will likely face an uphill struggle in federal court when seeking to obtain an ex parte seizure order under the DTSA.[44]

  Though federal courts sparingly order DTSA ex parte seizures, to date at least one federal court did issue a published DTSA ex parte seizure order, which appeared in Mission Capital Advisors, LLC v. Romaka.[45] In Romaka, the defendant allegedly downloaded the plaintiff's client and contact lists to the defendant's personal computer without the plaintiff's authorization; the plaintiff filed an ex parte motion seeking to seize some properties containing the plaintiff's trade secrets or enjoin the defendant from disclosing that information.[46] During the trial, the defendant neither acknowledged receipt of the court's prior orders[47] nor appeared before the court as ordered,[48] all of which together with other facts in Romaka convinced the court that other forms of equitable relief would be inadequate and the defendant would likely evade or otherwise disobey the court order.[49] After reviewing the facts of this case along with DTSA requirements item by item, the Romaka court found it clearly appears from specific facts that all requirements for an ex parte seizure order under the DTSA are met,[50] and thus, issued a said seizure order as requested by the plaintiff.[51] Romaka gives us some hints about what circumstances would cause a federal court to order a DTSA ex parte seizure.[52] This case tells us that evading or disregarding court-mandated actions is likely demonstrating to the court a propensity to disobey a future court order and may probably increase the likelihood of meriting a DTSA ex parte seizure order.[53] Moreover, echoing other decisions rendered by federal courts, Romaka reveals that federal courts tend to approach ex parte seizure order applications in a gingerly way.[54]

  Federal courts take a conservative approach toward ex parte seizure order to curtail abuse of such order[55] does not mean that no injunctive relief is available to victims of trade secret misappropriation. Injunctive relief provided by other federal laws or state laws[56] is nonetheless available to those victims.[57] As long as the facts of the case before the court meet all elements required for injunctive relief, it is not rare for federal courts to grant injunctive relief other than an ex parte seizure order.[58]

V. The DTSA might apply to a pre-DTSA trade secret misappropriation that continues after the DTSA became effective

  The DTSA expressly states that it applies to any trade secret misappropriation that “occurs on or after the date of the enactment” of the DTSA.[59] Therefore, the DTSA does not apply to trade secret misappropriations that began and ended before the effective date of DTSA.[60] In practice, it is possible that a federal court will dismiss a plaintiff's DTSA claim if the plaintiff fails to state that the alleged trade secret misappropriations (either in whole or in part) took place after the DTSA came into effect.[61]

  Federal courts have begun addressing or recognizing that the DTSA might apply to trade secret misappropriations that occurred prior to and continued after the enactment date of the DTSA.[62] However, a plaintiff should “plausibly” and “sufficiently” plead in his claim that some parts of the alleged continuing misappropriation of trade secrets occurred after the DTSA became effective.[63] Some critics opine that, in the case of a continuing trade secret misappropriation that took place before and continued after the DTSA was enacted, the available recovery shall be limited to “post-DTSA misappropriation.”[64]

  By being mindful of the foregoing, maybe someday a plaintiff will bring a DTSA claim for a pre-DTSA misappropriation of trade secrets that continues after the DTSA is in effect.[65] In this kind of litigation, one should pay attention to whether the plaintiff has plausibly and sufficiently alleged the part of misappropriation that occurred after the enactment date of the DTSA.[66] When a plaintiff fails to plausibly and sufficiently alleges the post-DTSA misappropriation part, the defendant stands a chance to convince the court to dismiss the plaintiff's claim.[67]

VI. Conclusion

  To sum up, recent federal decisions and emerging trends in DTSA litigation provide the following implications to Taiwanese companies who might be involved in DTSA litigation in federal court:

1. The DTSA does not preempt or displace any other civil remedies provided by other federal laws and state laws.[68] Rather, the DTSA adds a layer of protection for trade secrets and creates a federal path for plaintiffs to pursue civil remedies.[69] Federal courts tend to turn to local state laws and pre-DTSA decisions for guidance when hearing DTSA claims or making decisions.[70] Do not ignore pre-DTSA trade secret laws or prior decisions as they remain an indispensable reference for federal court.

2. A plaintiff's pleading must satisfy the plausibility pleading standard when the plaintiff brings a DTSA claim in federal court.[71] Whether the plaintiff's pleading satisfies the plausibility pleading standard is likely one of the hard-fought battles between the parties in the early stage of the litigation. The plausibility pleading regime does not require a plaintiff to disclose his trade secrets in detail in his complaint.[72] However, a plaintiff should be able to describe and identify his trade secrets.[73]

3. Seeking to secure a DTSA ex parte seizure order in federal court will likely face an uphill battle.[74] Obtaining alternative injunctive relief would be easier than obtaining a DTSA ex parte seizure. When being confronted with an ex parte application for seizure order under the DTSA, federal courts tend to favor a conservative approach to prevent the abuse of this ex parte seizure remedy.[75] Notwithstanding the foregoing, as long as the facts of the case before the court meet all elements required for injunctive relief, it is not rare for federal courts to grant injunctive relief other than an ex parte seizure order.[76]

4. The DTSA might apply to trade secret misappropriations that occurred prior to and continued after the enactment date of the DTSA.[77] When a DTSA litigation involves this kind of continuing misappropriation, one of those hard-fought battles between the parties during litigation will likely be whether the plaintiff has plausibly and sufficiently stated the part of misappropriation that occurred after the DTSA came into effect.[78] When a plaintiff fails to plausibly and sufficiently alleges the post-DTSA misappropriation part, the defendant stands a chance to convince the court to dismiss the plaintiff's claim.[79]


[1] The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-153, 130 Stat. 376 (May 11, 2016) (mostly codified in scattered sections of 18 U.S.C. §§1836-1839 [hereinafter the “DTSA”].

[2] Mark L. Krotoski, Greta L. Burkholder, Jenny Harrison & Corey R. Houmand, The Landmark Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, at 3 (May 2016); Bradford K. Newman, Jessica Mendelson & MiRi Song, The Defend Trade Secret Act: One Year Later, 2017-Apr Bus. L. Today 1, 1 (2017).

[3] 18 U.S.C. §1838.

[4] S. Rep. No. 114-220, at 2 (2016) [hereinafter “S. Rep.”]; Kaylee Beauchamp, The Failures of Federalizing Trade Secrets: Why the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Should Preempt State Law, 86 Miss. L.J. 1031, 1033, 1045 (2017); Zoe Argento, Killing the Golden Goose: The Dangers of Strengthening Domestic Trade Secret Rights in Response to Cyber-Misappropriation, 16 Yale J. L. & Tech. 172, 177 (2014); James Pooley, The Myth of the Trade Secret Troll: Why the Defend Trade Secrets Act Improves the Protection of Commercial Information, 23 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 1045, 1045 (2016); John Conley, New Federal Trade Secret Act and Its Impact on Life Sciences, Genomics L. Rep. (Aug. 12, 2016), https://www.genomicslawreport.com/index.php/2016/08/12/new-federal-trade-secret-act-and-its-impact-on-life-sciences/; Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 1.

[5] 18 U.S.C. §1836(c).

[6] Krotoski, Burkholder, Harrison & Houmand, supra note 2, at 7; Beauchamp, supra note 4, at 1033, 1045, 1072; Lily Li & Andrea W. Paris, Help! What Are My (Immediate) Defenses to a Federal Trade Secret Claim?, 58-Sep Orange County Law. 52, 52 (2016); Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 1.

[7] Conley, supra note 4.

[8] William M. Hensley, Post-Enactment Case Law Developments under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 59-Jul Orange County Law. 42, 44 (2017); Robert B. Milligan & Daniel Joshua Salinas, Emerging Issues In the Defend Trade Secrets Act's Second Year, Seyfarth Shaw LLP: Trading Secrets (June 14, 2017), https://www.tradesecretslaw.com/2017/06/articles/dtsa/emerging-issues-in-the-defend-trade-secrets-acts-second-year/; Jeffrey S. Boxer, John M. Griem, Jr., Alexander G. Malyshev & Dylan L. Ruffi, The Defend Trade Secrets Act – 2016 In Review, Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP (Jan. 19, 2017), http://www.clm.com/publication.cfm?ID=5579; Rajiv Dharnidharka, Andrew D. Day & Deborah E. McCrimmon, The Defend Trade Secrets Act One Year In – Four Things We've Learned, DLA Piper (May 30, 2017), https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2017/05/defend-trade-secrets-act-four-things-learned/; Joshua R. Rich, The DTSA After One Year: Has the Federal Trade Secrets Law Met Expectations?, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, Vol. 15 Issue 3 Snippets 6, 7 (Summer 2017).

[9] HealthBanc International, LLC v. Synergy Worldwide, 208 F.Supp.3d 1193, 1201 (D.Utah 2016); Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust v. Cori, No. 4:16CV01631 JAR, 2016 WL 6611133, at *2-5 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 9, 2016); Panera, LLC v. Nettles, No. 4:16-cv-1181-JAR, 2016 WL 4124114, at *4 fn.2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 3, 2016); Henry Schein, Inc. v. Cook, 191 F.Supp.3d 1072, 1077, 1079-1080 (N.D.Cal. 2016); Engility Corp. v. Daniels, No. 16-cv-2473-WJM-MEH, 2016 WL 7034976, at *8-10 (D. Colo. Dec. 2, 2016); M.C. Dean, Inc. v. City of Miami Beach, Florida, 199 F. Supp. 3d 1349, 1353-1357 (S.D. Fla. 2016); GTO Access Systems, LLC v. Ghost Controls, LLC, No. 4:16cv355-WS/CAS, 2016 WL 4059706, at *1 fn.1, *2-4 (N.D. Fla. June 20, 2016); Earthbound Corp. v. MiTek USA, Inc., No. C16-1150 RSM, 2016 WL 4418013, at *9-10 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 19, 2016); Kuryakyn Holdings, LLC v. Ciro, LLC, 242 F.Supp.3d 789, 797-800 (W.D. Wisc. 2017).

[10] Michelle Evans, Plausibility under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 16 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 188, 190 (2017); Eric J. Fues, Maximilienne Giannelli & Jon T. Self, Practice Tips for the Trade Secret Holder: Preparing a Complaint Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, Inside Counsel (June 14, 2017), https://www.finnegan.com/en/insights/practice-tips-for-the-trade-secret-holder-preparing-a-complaint.html; David R. Fertig & Michael A. Betts, The Defend Trade Secrets Act: Jurisdictional Considerations—Part I, 29 No. 7 Intell. Prop. & Tech. L.J. 3, 3-5 (2017) [hereinafter “Considerations—Part I”].

[11] M.C. Dean, 199 F. Supp. 3d at 1357; Chatterplug, Inc. v. Digital Intent, LLC, No. 1:16-cv-4056, 2016 WL 6395409, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 2016); Raben Tire Co. v. McFarland, No. 5:16-CV-00141-TBR, 2017 WL 741569, at *2-3 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 24, 2017).

[12] Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b).

[13] Jessica Engler, The Defend Trade Secrets Act at Year One, 12 No. 4 In-House Def. Q. 20, 22 (2017).

[14] Conley, supra note 4.

[15] Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 3.

[16] Pleading the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, the plaintiff's claim (entitlement to relief), and the plaintiff's demand for the relief sought are requirements for the pleading under Article 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the “FRCP”). Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The FRCP applies to “all civil actions and proceedings in the United States district courts.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. Thus, the FRCP requirements also apply to DTSA civil actions brought in federal courts. Evans, supra note 10, at 190; Fues, Giannelli & Self, supra note 10; Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 3-4.

[17] In Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted Article 8(a) of the FRCP, introduced the concept of “plausibility pleading,” and established the plausibility pleading standard. Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547, 570 (2007). Under the plausibility pleading standard, a plaintiff is not required to provide “detailed factual allegations” in his complaint, but he needs to state the grounds of his claim (entitlement to relief), which should be “more than labels and conclusions.” Id. at 555, 570. At least, the plaintiff's complaint should contain enough facts showing that the plaintiff's claim is “plausible on its face.” Id. Two years after Twombly, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal the U.S. Supreme Court expressly affirmed that the plausibility pleading standard established in Twombly applies to “all civil actions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). Accordingly, the plausibility pleading standard applies to all DTSA claims brought in federal courts. Evans, supra note 10, at 190; Fues, Giannelli & Self, supra note 10; Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 3-5. It is worth mentioning that some commentators are of the opinion that federal pleading stands are often higher than those required under state laws. Boxer, Griem, Jr., Malyshev & Ruffi, supra note 8.

[18] Gold Medal Prods. Co. v. Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., No. 1:16-CV-00365, 2017 WL 1365798, at *5-8 (S.D. Ohio, Apr. 14, 2017). See also Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 4; David R. Fertig & Michael A. Betts, The Defend Trade Secrets Act: Jurisdictional Considerations—Part II, 29 No. 8 Intell. Prop. & Tech. L.J. 12, 12 (2017) [hereinafter “Considerations—Part II”].

[19] McFarland, 2017 WL 741569, at *2-3; M.C. Dean, 199 F. Supp. 3d at 1357; Digital Intent, 2016 WL 6395409, at *3. See also Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 3-5.

[20] Fues, Giannelli & Self, supra note 10; Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 5; Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part II, supra note 18, at 13-14.

[21] Boxer, Griem, Jr., Malyshev & Ruffi, supra note 8.

[22] Id.

[23] 18 U.S.C. §1839(3).

[24] McFarland, 2017 WL 741569, at *2.

[25] Fues, Giannelli & Self, supra note 10.

[26] Engler, supra note 13, at 21-22. Providing help in identifying the trade secret in question by requesting as much detail as possible is a common point shared by the plausibility pleading standard in the U.S., and the “Case Detail Explanation Form” (to be filled out by the complainant or the victim) attached to Article 6 of the “Guideline for Handling Major Trade Secret Cases in the Prosecuting Authority” in Taiwan. However, they apply to different circumstances:

1. The plausibility pleading standard in the U.S. sets forth the threshold requirements to be met by a plaintiff in his pleading when the plaintiff brings a civil claim in federal court and applies to all federal civil actions. On the other hand, the aforementioned Case Detail Explanation Form in Taiwan is a form to be filled out by the complainant or the complainant's agent. This Form provides a reference to prosecutors for the investigation of major trade secret cases (criminal cases), but it does not serve as the basis for a prosecutor to determine whether to prosecute a case.

2. The plausibility pleading standard is not only followed by those bringing a federal civil action but also adopted by federal courts when hearing civil cases. Contrarily, the aforementioned Case Detail Explanation Form in Taiwan is provided to prosecutors as a reference for investigation. A prosecutor is not bound to prosecute a case simply based on the information provided in this Form. Likewise, this Form and the information provided therein are not binding on any court in Taiwan.

A commentator noted that the Ministry of Justice in Taiwan referred to the “Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes (Manual)” of the U.S. Department of Justice when adopting the “Guideline for Handling Major Trade Secret Cases in the Prosecuting Authority” on April 19, 2016. “Article 6 indicates that the complainant or the victim should first fill out the Case Detail Explanation Form, which would help the prosecution authority not only figures out whether the allegedly misappropriated trade secret meets the elements of secrecy, economic value, and secrecy measures under law, but also evaluates whether it is necessary to resort to compulsive measures”. Ti-Chu Chen (陳砥柱), Guideline for Handling Major Trade Secret Cases in the Prosecuting Authority, Louis & Charles Attorneys at Law (遠東萬佳法律事務所) (July 14, 2016), http://www.louisilf.com/zh-tw/posts/2016-07-14 (last visited Dec. 31, 2017). See also Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes (Manual) (4th ed. 2013), available at: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-ccips/legacy/2015/03/26/prosecuting_ip_crimes_manual_2013.pdf. However, the cover of the “Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes (Manual)” expressly states that its contents are provided as “internal suggestion to Department of Justice attorneys.” Id. Therefore, the contents of this manual theoretically are not binding on any federal court.

[27] Mission Measurement Corp. v. Blackbaud, Inc, 216 F.Supp.3d 915, 921 (N.D.Ill. 2016).

[28] Digital Intent, 2016 WL 6395409, at *3.

[29] McFarland, 2017 WL 741569, at *2; Blackbaud, 216 F.Supp.3d at 921; Ciro, 242 F.Supp.3d at 798.

[30] Evans, supra note 10, at 191. Some federal court decisions show that requesting the plaintiff to provide sufficient facts describing the trade secret in question is not something newly developed following the enactment of the DTSA. Rather, it has been the position held by federal courts before the DTSA came into effect. AWP, Inc. v. Commonwealth Excavating, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:13cv031., 2013 WL 3830500, at *5 (W.D. Va. July 24, 2013); Events Media Network, Inc. v. Weather Channel Interactive, Inc., Civil No. 1:13–03 (RBK/AMD), 2013 WL 3658823, at *3 (D. N.J. July 12, 2013); Council for Educational Travel, USA v. Czopek, Civil No. 1:11–CV–00672, 2011 WL 3882474, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 2, 2011); DLC DermaCare LLC v. Castillo, No. CV–10–333–PHX–DGC, 2010 WL 5148073, at *4 (D. Ariz. Dec. 14, 2010).

[31] Blackbaud, 216 F.Supp.3d at 921.

[32] Ciro, 242 F.Supp.3d at 800.

[33] Engler, supra note 13, at 21; Hensley, supra note 8, at 44.

[34] Hensley, supra note 8, at 44; Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 2-3; Rich, supra note 8, at 6; Engler, supra note 13, at 20.

[35] 18 U.S.C. §1836(b)(2)(A).

[36] Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 3.

[37] Under the DTSA, a court may, only in “extraordinary circumstances,” issue an ex parte seizure order when “find[ing] that it clearly appears from specific facts that”: (1) “an order issued pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or another form of equitable relief would be inadequate to achieve the purpose of this paragraph because the party to which the order would be issued would evade, avoid, or otherwise not comply with such an order;” (2) “an immediate and irreparable injury will occur if such seizure order is not issued;” (3) “the harm to the applicant of denying the application outweighs the harm to the legitimate interests of the person against whom seizure would be ordered of granting the application and substantially outweighs the harm to any third parties who may be harmed by such seizure;” (4) “the applicant is likely to succeed in showing that the information is a trade secret and the person against whom seizure would be ordered misappropriated the trade secret of the applicant by improper means or conspired to use improper means to misappropriate the trade secret of the applicant;” (5) “the person against whom seizure would be ordered has actual possession of the trade secret and any property to be seized;” (6) “the application describes with reasonably particularity the matter to be seized and, to the extent reasonable under the circumstances, identifies the location where the matter is to be seized;” (7) “the person against whom seizure would be ordered, or persons acting in concert with such person would destroy, move, hide, or otherwise make such matter inaccessible to the court, if the applicant were to proceed on notice to such person;” and (8) “the applicant has not publicized the requested seizure”. 18 U.S.C. §1836(b)(2)(A)(ii).

[38] 18 U.S.C. §1836(b)(2)(A)(i).

[39] Engler, supra note 13, at 21; Michael T. Renaud & Nick Armington, DTSA and Ex Parte Seizure – Lessons from the First Ex Parte Seizure Under The DTSA, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC (Aug. 21, 2017), https://www.globalipmatters.com/2017/08/21/dtsa-and-ex-parte-seizure-lessons-from-the-first-ex-parte-seizure-under-the-dtsa; Matthew Werdegar & Warren Braunig, One Year On: the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, Daily J. (Apr. 26, 2017), available at: https://www.keker.com/Templates/media/files/Articles/Keker%20(DJ-4_26_17).pdf.

[40] Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 3; Dharnidharka, Day & McCrimmon, supra note 8; Werdegar & Braunig, supra note 39.

[41] OOO Brunswick Rail Mgmt. v. Sultanov, No. 5:17-cv-00017, 2017 WL 67119, *2 (N.D. Cal., Jan. 6, 2017); Magnesita Refractories Company v. Mishra, CAUSE NO. 2:16-CV-524-PPS-JEM, 2017 WL 365619, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Jan. 25, 2017).

[42] Baleriz Carribean Ltd. Corp. v. Calvo, Case 1:16-cv-23300-KMW, at 7 (S.D.Fla. Aug. 5, 2016). See also Renaud & Armington, supra note 39. A commentator opines that federal courts are reluctant to issue an ex parte seizure order against someone who has never concealed evidence or disregarded court orders before. Engler, supra note 13, at 21.

[43] Digital Assurance Certification, LLC v. Pendolino, Case No: 6:17-cv-72-Orl-31TBS, at *1-2 (M.D.Fla. Jan. 23, 2017).

[44] Engler, supra note 13, at 21; Dharnidharka, Day & McCrimmon, supra note 8.

[45] Mission Capital Advisors, LLC v. Romaka, No. 16-cv-05878-LLS (S.D.N.Y. July 29, 2016). Some commentators consider Romaka the very first case in which a federal court ordered a DTSA ex parte seizure after the DTSA became effective. Renaud & Armington, supra note 39.

[46] Romaka, No. 16-cv-05878-LLS, at 1-3.

[47] Id. at 2.

[48] Id.

[49] Id.

[50] In Romaka, the federal district court found the followings after reviewing the facts of this case along with the requirements under the DTSA: (1) “[a]n order issued pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or another form of equitable relief would be inadequate because [the defendant] would evade, avoid, or otherwise not comply with such an order;” (2) “[a]n immediate and irreparable injury to [the plaintiff] would occur if such seizure is not ordered;” (3) “[t]he harm to [the plaintiff] of denying the application outweighs the harm to the legitimate interests of [the defendant];” (4) “[the plaintiff] is likely to succeed in showing that the information at issue is a trade secret based on [the plaintiff's] averments;” (5) “[the plaintiff] is likely to succeed in showing that [the defendant] has misappropriated [the plaintiff's trade secret] by improper means;” (6) “[the plaintiff] is likely to succeed in showing that the [defendant] has actual possession of the [plaintiff's trade secrets]; (7) “[d]espit the risk that [the defendant] would make the [plaintiff's trade secret] inaccessible to the court, or retain unauthorized copies, [the plaintiff] is proceeding on notice;” and (8) “[the plaintiff] is likely to succeed in showing, and has represented, that it has not publicized the requested seizure.” Id. at 2-4.

[51] Id. at 4. In Romaka, the plaintiff also applied for the seizure of its proprietary information other than its client and contact lists. However, the Romaka court denied the plaintiff's request for the seizure of other proprietary information because the plaintiff failed to describe “with sufficient particularity” such information and related facts, such as “confidentiality and irreparable harm.” Id.

[52] Renaud & Armington, supra note 39.

[53] Id.

[54] Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 3; Engler, supra note 13, at 21; Renaud & Armington, supra note 39.

[55] Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 3.

[56] For instance, the injunctive remedies available under the DTSA. 18 U.S.C. §1836(b)(3). For further example, a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order available under the FRCP. Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a), (b).

[57] As stated above, the DTSA does not preempt or displace any other remedies provided by other federal laws and state laws for trade secret misappropriation. 18 U.S.C. §1838.

[58] Cook, 191 F.Supp.3d at 1077, 1076-1077, 1079; Daniels, 2016 WL 7034976, at *10-11, 14; Nettles, 2016 WL 4124114, at *4. See also Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 2-3; Rich, supra note 8, at 6; Boxer, Griem, Jr., Malyshev & Ruffi, supra note 8.

[59] DTSA §2(e), Pub. L. No. 114-153, 130 Stat. 376, 381-382.

[60] Werdegar & Braunig, supra note 39; Krotoski, Burkholder, Harrison & Houmand, supra note 2, at 14; Engler, supra note 13, at 21.

[61] Avago Technologies U.S. Inc. v. Nanoprecision Products, Inc., Case No. 16-cv-03737-JCS, 2017 WL 412524, at *9 (N.D.Cal. Jan. 31, 2017); Cave Consulting Group, Inc. v. Truven Health Analytics Inc., Case No. 15-cv-02177-SI, 2017 WL 1436044, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 24, 2017); Physician's Surrogacy, Inc. v. German, Case No.: 17CV0718-MMA (WVG), 2017 WL 3622329, at *8-9 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2017). See also Tara C. Clancy, April Boyer & Michael R. Creta, Emerging Trends in Defend Trade Secrets Act Litigation, National Law Review (Sept. 26, 2017), https://www.natlawreview.com/article/emerging-trends-defend-trade-secrets-act-litigation; Milligan & Salinas, supra note 8.

[62] Cook, 191 F.Supp.3d at 1076-1079; Allstate Insurance Company v. Rote, No. 3:16-cv-01432-HZ, 2016 WL 4191015, at *1-5 (D. Or. Aug. 7, 2016); Syntel Sterling Best Shores Mauritius Limited v. Trizetto Group, Inc., 15-CV-211 (LGS) (RLE), 2016 WL 5338550, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 2016); Adams Arms, LLC v. Unified Weapon Systems, Inc., Case No. 8:16-cv-1503-T-33AEP, 2016 WL 5391394, at *6 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 27, 2016); Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services, Inc. v. Irex Contracting Group, CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-2499, 2017 WL 1105648, at *3-8 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 24, 2017); Sleekez, LLC v. Horton, CV 16–09–BLG–SPW–TJC, 2017 WL 1906957, at *5-6 (D. Mont. Apr. 21, 2017). See also Rich, supra note 8, at 8.

[63] Unified Weapon Systems, 2016 WL 5391394, at *6; Horton, 2017 WL 1906957, at *5-6. See also Milligan & Salinas, supra note 8; Werdegar & Braunig, supra note 39. A recent federal court decision reveals that federal courts will likely dismiss a DTSA claim if a plaintiff makes no specific allegations other than a “conclusory allegation” of the continuing trade secret misappropriation. Hydrogen Master Rights, Ltd. v. Weston, 228 F.Supp.3d 320, 338 (D.Del. 2017). See also Engler, supra note 13, at 23.

[64] Unified Weapon Systems, 2016 WL 5391394, at *6. See also Rich, supra note 8, at 8.

[65] Engler, supra note 13, at 23.

[66] Milligan & Salinas, supra note 8.

[67] Engler, supra note 13, at 23.

[68] 18 U.S.C. § 1838.

[69] Conley, supra note 4.

[70] Synergy Worldwide, 208 F.Supp.3d at 1201; Cori, 2016 WL 6611133, at *2-5; Nettles, 2016 WL 4124114, at *4 fn.2; Cook, 191 F.Supp.3d at 1077, 1079-1080; Daniels, 2016 WL 7034976, at *8-10; M.C. Dean, 199 F. Supp. 3d at 1353-1357; Ghost Controls, 2016 WL 4059706, at *1 fn.1, *2-4; MiTek USA, 2016 WL 4418013, at *9-10; Ciro, 242 F.Supp.3d at 797-800.

[71] Evans, supra note 10, at 190; Fues, Giannelli & Self, supra note 10; Fertig & Betts, Considerations—Part I, supra note 10, at 3-5.

[72] Blackbaud, 216 F.Supp.3d at 921.

[73] Digital Intent, 2016 WL 6395409, at *3. See also Evans, supra note 10, at 191.

[74] Engler, supra note 13, at 21; Dharnidharka, Day & McCrimmon, supra note 8.

[75] Sultanov, 2017 WL 67119, at *2; Mishra, 2017 WL 365619, at *2; Calvo, Case 1:16-cv-23300-KMW, at 7; Pendolino, 2017 WL 320830, at *1-2. See also Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 3; Engler, supra note 13, at 21; Renaud & Armington, supra note 39; Werdegar & Braunig, supra note 39.

[76] Newman, Mendelson & Song, supra note 2, at 2-3; Rich, supra note 8, at 6; Boxer, Griem, Jr., Malyshev & Ruffi, supra note 8.

[77] Cook, 191 F.Supp.3d at 1076-1079; Rote, 2016 WL 4191015, at *1-5; Trizetto Group, 2016 WL 5338550, at *6; Unified Weapon Systems, 2016 WL 5391394, at *6; Irex Contracting Group, 2017 WL 1105648, at *3-8; Horton, 2017 WL 1906957, at *5-6. See also Rich, supra note 8, at 8.

[78] Milligan & Salinas, supra note 8.

[79] Engler, supra note 13, at 23.

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Brief Overview of the Recent Progress of the TIPS Project and Important Developments of Taiwan’s IP Protection Environment

Chien-Shan Chiu I. Introduction Taiwan, a country with limited natural resources, has been seen to create rapid economic development for the past few decades. This achievement has been praised as an “economic miracle” and making Taiwan one of Asia’s “Four Tigers1”. The success is a result of the tremendous hard work and efforts exerted by the local people and enterprises and the forward-looking national policies initiated by the government. Recognizing fast technology breakthroughs and globalization trend are going to have major impacts on the traditional ways of managing business and may as a result change the current competitive landscape, the government of Taiwan has promoted vigorously of transforming Taiwan into a “green silicon island” with high value-added production2. The goal is to make Taiwan an innovation headquarters for local enterprises and a regional research and development center for international corporations. It is hoped that eventually, Taiwan will not only be known as a country manufacturing high-quality “ Made in Taiwan” products as it is now, but also an innovative country producing products that are “Designed in Taiwan”. In order to encourage more innovation and to create more high value-added products, several national strategies were initiated by the government. One of the most important policies in today’s knowledge-based economy is certainly to provide a sound and effective intellectual property protection environment so that the results created from human intelligence can be well protected and utilized. This essay provides an overview of the recent progress of the TIPS (stands for Taiwan Intellectual Property System) project, which is currently promoted by the Science and Technology Law Center. The TIPS project is an innovative program solely developed by the Taiwanese scholars in year 2003 and has since achieved quite significant success. The second part of this essay gives a brief introduction of the recent changes made to the intellectual property system in Taiwan. II. Overview of the Recent Progress of the TIPS Project 1. The “Developmental Stage” The TIPS project has been promoted at the initiative of the Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2003. The main goal of this project is to develop a set of guidelines for managing intellectual property to be implemented by the Taiwanese enterprises. At “developmental stage”, academic journal articles and relevant legislative requirements were gathered; intellectual property management experts were consulted and companies with good and effective intellectual property management practices were interviewed. All of the information and advises were collected and analyzed and formulated into a set of guidelines which basically covers the whole cycle of intellectual property management right starts from its creation, protection, maintenance and exploitation. The types of intellectual property rights managed include patent, trade mark, copyright and trade secret. A hearing for the draft guidelines was held in 2004. A pilot study was done by selecting eight representative domestic companies in 2005. All the public opinions, comments and advises from the trial companies were collected and used to revise the draft guidelines. The revised guidelines were then formally promulgated on March 23, 2007. The project then entered into a full “promotional stage” where the Science and Technology Law Centered entrusted by The Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs was responsible for promoting the project. As the fundamental objective of TIPS is to assist companies to establish an effective internal intellectual property management system at relatively low cost, the whole system was developed based upon the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Standard. Since the ISO standards are widely recognized and adopted by many Taiwanese enterprises, for an enterprise with ISO system implemented, TIPS can be easily integrated into the existing ISO standards, conflicts between these two systems will be minimized and it will only require minimum organization structural changes and implementation costs. Further, by incorporating the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action) model and “process-oriented approach” of ISO 9001:2000, the IP management processes implemented within an enterprise possess the feature of being able to be continuously improved. 2. The “Promotional Stage” In order to facilitate the promotion and draw more public attention to TIPS, various supplementary measures were introduced: (1) Free on-line self-assessment tool A collection of 50 questions is provided on the TIPS website3. Once a company has registered as a member of TIPS (simply by filling up some details about the company), it can use these questions to self-assess the effectiveness and adequacy of its existing (if any) IP management infrastructure. After the company has completed all the questions, the on-line tool would automatically generate few suggestions relating to the management of intellectual property based on the answers provided by the company. The company can also find out how they stand among all the enterprises which have taken the assessment previously. The on-line self-assessment tool is the initial step for those companies wanting to know more about TIPS. Once they realize that they are far behind the requirements of an effective IP management system, they can then move on to the next stage to implement TIPS. (2) On-Site Diagnostic and Consulting Service Once a company has completed the on-line self-assessment questions, it is then eligible to apply for a more detailed assessment of its internal IP management infrastructure conducted by a qualified IP service consultant. The IP service consultant will interview the managers responsible for managing IP related matters within a company and check relevant internal policies and documents. Concrete advises in relation to the implementation of TIPS will be given based on the inadequacies and problems uncovered during the on-site visit. The cost for the diagnostic and consulting service is fully covered by the government. (3) Model Companies Every year since 2004, some model companies are chosen as “demonstrative” companies for the implementation of TIPS. For instance, a total of 14 enterprises were selected as model companies this year. Among these companies, 3 “clusters of enterprises”, each of which contains 3 companies were chosen. The so-called “cluster of enterprises” is a group of companies that can be constituted by companies providing similar products or services within the same industry, or companies having the relationships as suppliers and consumers or companies within the same corporate structure. The introducing of implementing TIPS through “cluster of enterprises” is a promotion strategy that aims to disseminate the TIPS project more effectively and efficiently. For these selected model companies, certain percentage of the cost for implementing TIPS is subsidized by the government. (4) Certification After an enterprise has fully implemented TIPS, they can then apply for certification. All the prescribed documents must firstly be sent to the TIPS working team which is responsible for all the administrative works of TIPS. After a formality check, 2 or 3 (depending on the size of the enterprise) IP experts will be chosen to conduct an on-site inspection to determine whether the newly implemented IP management system meets the minimum requirements of TIPS. If the experts are satisfied with the inspection result, a certificate for the compliance of TIPS will be issued by the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The certificate serves as government’s assurance to the public that the certified enterprise has at least the minimum ability (evaluated in accordance with government’s standard) to manage and protect its intellectual property. (5) IP Management Courses Three types of courses are provided to train IP management personnel. The basic course is an introductory course, which covers the basic principles of TIPS. The intermediate course called The Practical Implementation Course covers more detailed explanations of TIPS and how it can be implemented into the enterprise. Any person who has completed this course and passed the test will receive a certificate. The advance course called Self-Assessment Course teaches students how to evaluate and determine whether their newly developed IP management system conforms to the TIPS requirements. Again, a person who has completed this course and passed the test will receive a certificate. In order for an enterprise to be eligible to apply for a certificate for the compliance of TIPS, the enterprise must firstly furnish a self-assessment report to be completed by a “qualified person”. Such “qualified person” is the person who has successfully obtained the certificate for the completion of Self-Assessment Course. 3. Achievement The TIPS project has received wide recognition since it first launched in year 2004. To the end of 2008, 297 enterprises have completed the on-line self-assessment questions; 73 companies have received on-site diagnostic and consultation services; 618 persons have taken the IP management courses; 45 enterprises have successfully obtained the certificates for the compliance of TIPS and more than142 enterprises have either completed or in the middle of implementing TIPS. Benefits of implementing TIPS as reported by TIPS implemented enterprises are summarized as follows: (1) Company A: Implementing TIPS provides an assurance that Company A has adequate ability to protect the technology secrecy belongs to its international client. Company A thus obtained a new purchasing order worth more than NT$ 100 million. (2) Company B: TIPS assists in enhancing the level of trust on the company’s ability to protect its international client’s confidential information. A new purchasing order worth NT $ 30 million is placed by such client. (3) Company C: Through systematic IP management and IP inventory audit, Company C starts to formulate a plan for licensing out its non-core IP assets. (4) Company D: The alignment of R&D and business strategies required by TIPS ensures the accuracy of the R&D direction. The systematic way of managing the R&D projects also reduces the R&D phase to 45 days, saving R&D expenditure by 10%. (5) Company E: Implementing TIPS helps Company E to formulate a more clear and definite IP mapping strategy. Company E plans to implement TIPS into its whole corporate group in 2008. (6) Company D: Systematic IP management has reduced the number of litigation allegations. Company D plans to implement TIPS into every business unit within its corporate structure in 2008. 4. Proposed New Features of TIPS In answering to the responses receiving from the TIPS implemented enterprises, two new measures are going to be launched in 2009. First, enterprises with effective IP management system and strategies are encouraged to write up an Intellectual Property Management Report summarizing their business, R&D and IP management strategies as well as their accumulated IP assets. Second, an Experience-Sharing Platform is going to be established where enterprises can freely exchange their experiences of managing IP and how to formulate an effective IP management strategy. III. Recent Development of Taiwan’s IP Protection Environment Year 2008 can be said to be a significant year for the history of IP development in Taiwan where three completely new legislations have taken effect this year. The Intellectual Property Court Organization Act4 and the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act5 were both promulgated on March 28 2007 and effective as of July 1 under which a new IP Court was established with new laws to govern the adjudication of IP cases. The Patent Attorney Act which governs the qualification and registration of a new patent attorney profession was promulgate on July 11 2007 and effective as of January 11 2008. It is believed that through the commencement of these three new legislations, the accuracy, consistency as well as efficiency of resolving IP-related disputes in Taiwan are going to be significantly improved. A short introduction for each of the three new legislations is provided below: 1. New IP Court A new IP Court was established pursuant to the Intellectual Property Court Organization Act and began to hear cases on July 1 2008. This Court is given jurisdiction to hear first and second instances of a civil action, first instance of an administrative action and the second instance of a criminal action for matters concerning IP rights. For examples, interests arising under the Patent Act, the Trade Mark Act, the Copyright Act, the Trade Secret Act, the Optical Disk Act, the Species of Plants and Seedling Act, the Fair Trade Act and the Regulation Governing the Protection of Integrated Circuits Configurations. Unlike previously, where the validity issues must be determined by the administrative court, the newly established IP Court can hear and decide the validity of an intellectual property right at issue. This will significantly improve the efficiency of resolving an IP dispute. Eight experienced judges were chosen to sit on the bench of the IP Court. Since most IP related matters involve complex technical issues, nine technical examination officers with various technical backgrounds from the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office were chosen to assist and provide their technical expertise and opinions to the IP Court judges. 2. New Laws Governing IP Litigation (1) Litigation procedures The Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act prescribes rules for adjudicating IP-related disputes. The Act recommends to try an IP infringement case through a 3-step processes. First, to determine the validity of an IP right. Second, to determine whether an IP right has been infringed and finally, to calculate the damages. The IP Court may at any state dismiss the case if it finds the IP right at issue is invalid or not infringed. In order to avoid unnecessary efforts spent on determining whether an IP right is infringed if such right is in fact invalid, the Act requires the IP Court to determine whether a right is infringed only after the invalidity defense raised by the defendant is dismissed. (2) Preliminary injunction The Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act also introduces the criteria used by the US courts to determine whether a preliminary injunction order should be granted. Before the enactment of this new Act, the requirements for granting preliminary injunction in Taiwan were quite loose as the court could grant a preliminary injunction order without firstly reviewing the merit of the case. The new adopted US criteria require the judges to determine the likelihood of success on the merits of the case; whether a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury would be caused if injunction is not granted; the balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction and the impact of the decision on public interest. As the criteria become stricter, it is believed that less preliminary injunctions will be granted. A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction order in the future shall put in more efforts in preparing evidences and reasons arguing that an injunction maintaining the status quo is necessary. (3) Protective orders (as to confidential information) As most IP litigation cases involve matters concerning confidential information or trade secrets, which are often crucial for the survival of an enterprise, the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act introduces a protective order into practice to preserve the confidentiality of specific information given by parties to the suit or a third party. A party to the suit or a third party can apply to the court to issue a protective order restraining the accessibility to the protected confidential information and restraining those who have accessed to the confidential information from disclosing it to others. Any intentional violation of the protective order is subject to a criminal liability. It is expected that by introducing the protective order, confidential information or trade secret holder may become more willing to reveal such information, which may assist improving the accuracy of resolving the disputes between parties. (4) Improved evidence preservation procedure Unlike the US court system, Taiwan, a civil law country, does not have discovery or Markman hearing procedures. Before the enactment of the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act, even though a judge can ask the parties to preserve evidences for the use of the trial, the judge is however, given no authority of compulsory execution. A party can refuse to comply with the judge’s request without any legal consequence. The new Act now provides compulsory execution of an evidence preservation order. Parties who are subject to the evidence preservation order are obligated to comply with the order. Furthermore, the judge may also request assistance from technical examiners or police department to provide advises. 3. New Patent Attorney Profession The Patent Attorney Act sets the requirements for becoming a qualified patent attorney in Taiwan. According to the Act, patent attorneys should be specialized in both technology and patent regulations. A candidate must firstly pass the Patent Attorney Eligibility Examination, followed by a period of prevocational training, such candidate is then able to register with the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office and join the Patent Attorneys Association. It is hoped that by introducing the new patent attorney profession, the quality of patent applications will be improved and thus reduce the ever increasing workload of patent examiners. IV. Conclusion The initiative of the TIPS project, the establishment of the IP court and the newly implemented patent attorney system all demonstrate the government’s determination to create a more sound and efficient environment for the protection of intellectual property. The overwhelming success of the TIPS project evidenced by the number of enterprises implementing the system indicates that Taiwanese companies are self-motivated, able to see the importance of intellectual property as their main source of competiveness and are ready and willing to move into the next stage of “innovative” management. It is believed that through the government’s pragmatic and foresight policies coupled with the adventurous and hard work spirits possessed by the local enterprises, Taiwan will eventually reach its goal of becoming a “green silicon island”, creating another “economic miracle”. Along with Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/taiwan/pro-economy.htm (last visited: 12/31/2008) TIPS website: http://www.tips.org.tw/ http://www.taie.com.tw/English/970520a.pdf (last visited: 12/3132008) http://www.taie.com.tw/English/970520a.pdf (last visited: 12/3132008)

A Survey Study on the Intellectual Property Management amongst Taiwanese Companies

J. Kitty Huang Chien-Shan Chiu Background In order to provide insight into intellectual property (IP) awareness, the status quo as well as potential hardship and demands arise over IP management, STLC was commissioned by IDB (Industrial Development Bureau) to conduct a survey study in June 2010. In this article, we provide briefings on the contents, research methodology and major findings of this study. About the research The survey questionnaire was sent by means of emails or posts to a total of 1000 business establishments randomly generated from the registration data facilitated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This was also the first time that such a survey has been envisaged on such a comprehensive scale, covering businesses located around Taiwan with the aim being to produce an in-depth analysis into IP management in various industries including manufacturing, precision machineries, photonics, bio-medicals, info-techs, semiconductors etc. Sixty-five percent of the respondents have less than fifty employees and the overall response rate achieved was 13.1%.1 A continuing need to strengthen IP awareness is required The first section of the questionnaire dealing with IP awareness gauged respondent companies IP knowledge and understanding through a series of questions relating to IP law and practice. When asked whether formal registration was necessary to obtain a range of intellectual property rights (IPRs), over 70% of companies replied with correct answers, namely patents, designs and trademarks. However, through other questions at a more advanced level, the responses revealed a general lack of knowledge in IP law and hence a continuing need to strengthen IP awareness is required. For instance, overall 70% of companies know that obtaining patents will require formal registration, yet surprisingly even of these over 50% incorrectly thought the manners of patent utilization, such as making products, will not result in infringing others IPRs. This result arguably suggests that respondents are in the main unaware that a patent does not give the patent owner the right to exploit the patented invention himself, but rather, he has only the “exclusive right” to stop others from doing so. For another instance, whilst 32% of respondents inaccurately thought that a formal registration is required to obtain copyrights, nonetheless this does not equate to the result being a near 70% of companies have a full and correct knowledge in regard to copyright. When faced with a slightly more obscure question of who would own the copyright in commissioned work (such as website creation) in the absence of a contract, 26% of companies didn’t know and 30% answered incorrectly. On the same token, though only 10% of respondents erroneously believed that trade secrets would require a formal registration, when asked whether the company’s client list may be a trade secret, the number of correct replies (61%) drops sharply when compared to the previous one. Though intended as a question to discriminate at the upper levels of trade secret awareness, the replies are more likely to reflect a lack comprehension of the subject among Taiwanese companies. The important message arise from the overall scales in the first section of the survey is that the need for IP awareness promotion and enhancement amongst companies in Taiwan still exists. Lack of IP expertise is a major barrier In the second section of the questionnaire companies were asked a series of questions which were intended to measure the status quo through the extent of IP management practices. Perhaps one would agree that the issue of perceptions of the importance of IP to a company is greatly linked to how effective it manages them. When asked to indicate reasons as to why IP is important to their business, the replies were rather polarized. The two most popular reasons were “means to differentiate from competitors” (33%) and “to prevent infringement” (30%). The distinction between the two is clearly that the former reason is relatively active and strategic whilst the latter is perceived to be passive and defensive. On the other hand, “to retrieve the cost of R&D” (4%) and “to attract more investors” (5%) are least likely to be seen as the reasons why IP is important to them. The results may suggest that generally speaking, Taiwanese companies tended not to utilize their IP to generate revenues nor correlate them with the business strategies, but rather, see them more of a shield to avoid infringement. Companies were asked what IPRs they own and the most common ones are trademarks (21%) and utility patents (20%), with invention patents (14%) being the third on the rank. In contrast only 2% of respondent companies own copyrights. While such result may be attributed to the overall structure of the industry, it may also link to the observation that most companies not merely lack the comprehension of copyrights but may also not be aware of owning such IPR. Furthermore, it is also surprising to find that 45% of respondents do not own any IPRs. The absence of IPRs within these companies is perhaps a key indication of poor awareness and inactive management of IPRs amongst many Taiwanese companies. To measure the extent of IP management is not easy as the intensity of it differs both by sector and by size. Therefore, the task is achieved through 9 questions designed on the concept of PDCA (plan-do-check-act) process which would allow the respondents to review and find out any inadequacy in their IP management as they proceed. One would expect that those companies with effective IP management would take care to evaluate the various IPRs required at different time intervals. Whilst all of the answer choices are considered to be “important timings”, for example “when planning for new skills/products/business” and “when further investment in IP would enhance defense (such as infringement prevention); yet the results revealed that over 60% of the companies did not perform such evaluation at whatever timing. This may suggest that in general, companies in Taiwan are inadequately concerned with the evaluation process within their management of IP. Such a result may consequently make them ignoring means to prevent infringement (such as checking competitors’ IPRs and prior-art search) or pay attention to regulation updates. Effective IP management indisputably requires certain monetary inputs. Companies were asked whether they have regularly spent on obtaining and maintaining IPRs the firm owns, and remarkably only about 36% of respondents answered this question. In addition the companies were asked about how much they spent on “application fees”2,“incentives offered to inventors”, “spending on HR” and “other expense”. Only a paltry 6% of all respondent companies spent on all the abovementioned categories and mostly up to the amount of NT$100,000 (roughly USD$3300) per each. Linked with the spending on IPRs is perhaps whether companies have designated staff responsible for managing IPRs or have a separate IP department. Again, 70% of respondents replied negatively to this question and only 10% of some larger companies (with over 200 employees) have specific personnel or department designated to assume this responsibility. The results may indicate a general lack of expertise in managing IPRs as a barrier to leveraging full value of them as well as making proper legal decision in the event of IP related disputes Companies were asked how to protect their IPRs through a variety of methods of protection though the majority (over 72%) didn’t implement any of them. The most highly identified method being “protect core skills by patents”, however, only 35% of companies adopted such protection. Furthermore, roughly 76% of the companies did not conduct training in IP issues for employees, and over 75% did not attempt to assess the efficiency of their management of IP. The explanation to the above is conceivably a general lack of IP expertise due to inadequate monetary inputs as well as perceived high costs for IP specialists within the company. The results ultimately reflect an inefficient execution of IP management in the massive Taiwanese companies. Most companies have only limited resources The final aspect of IP management that has been surveyed is the hardships occurred and accordingly the resources sought to solve them. When asked what are the major difficulties in the process of managing IP, the most common answers were “high expenditure on filing and maintenance” (18%), “lack of professional advice” (15%) and “regulatory complexity” (15%). These results are arguably all related to the facts already discussed in the afore-mentioned paragraphs. In general, the survey revealed that most companies have only limited resources and therefore highly demand external aids such as government funding or projects to help soften the hardships and improve their management skills. Accordingly, “unifying resources for enhancing IP management through a mutual platform” (22%) and “facilitate industry peer networks” (21%) being the most popular resources sought. Furthermore, 14% of the respondents indicated their urge to receive “on-site expert assistance”, and a remarkable 90% of the respondents have never been aware of the TIPS (Taiwan Intellectual Property Management System) project, which is one initiated by the government to help companies set up a systematic IP management system. As a result, efforts to promote the TIPS project should be further devoted as the initial step to assist companies strengthen their IP awareness and management skills. Conclusion The results of the survey present the status quo of IP management amongst the companies in Taiwan which is proportionally consistent with their IP awareness as well as hardships and resources sought. The present study shows what one might expect, that is larger companies tend to be more IP aware and have greater resources to manage their IPRs, whilst the rest of others (especially SMEs) are in the main inadequately aware of IP, which is crucial to enhance active IP management within and throughout their firms. While various resources are highly demanded, perhaps the government should firstly take steps to promote that awareness within and throughout their organizations. Linked with this is the second important point which is that further promotion of the TIPS project should be aimed at not only enhancing IP awareness but also assisting companies to better manage their IPRs. IP management is essential to preserve IP created by companies and the TIPS system would enable companies to foster and strengthen key aspects of IP management such as conduct training in IP issues for employees, evaluate various IPRs required, etc. Some of the complementary measures as such expert consultations and TIPS networks or seminars would also help to alleviate some of the hardships encountered in the process of managing IP. On the other hand, like the “Survey on Business Attitudes to Intellectual Property” being conducted yearly in Hong Kong since year 2004, it is suggested that the present survey research or the alike to be continually carried out to assist promoting IP awareness within Taiwan industry. Finally, we would like to thank everyone who contributed to this survey research and hope that it provides valuable insight into the goals originally proposed. 1.The survey resulted in 157 replies from which 26 of them were nullified by false or incomplete answers. 2.Application fees” include fees occurred from exploring inventions up to application and maintenance, which also include attorney fees.

Review of Singapore IP Dispute Resolution Development

Review of Singapore IP Dispute Resolution Development Preface   In recent years, advantage of capital and productivity are not enough for company to stand out from the business battle. Innovation and creation become the driver of business growth. Intellectual Property (“IP”) Right turns out to be the power to boost international competitiveness.   In March 2013, Singapore submitted 10-year IP Hub Master Plan to guide Singapore’s development as a Global IP Hub in Asia. Six Strategies are identified from IP Hub Master Plan. This article focuses on strategy 4, developing Singapore as a choice venue for IP dispute resolution through a strong IP Court and deep IP alternative dispute resolution capabilities, to understand how Singapore attracts various stakeholders and hence create a hive of IP activities by adopting tailored processes to facilitate the resolution of IP cases and promoting alternative dispute resolution. Key Points of IP Dispute Resolution   When it comes to IP issue, oblige will take either marketplace or area of IP application into account for choosing jurisdiction of dispute resolution. The major IP war occurs in America and China. Although Singapore deals with less IP case, the government considers itself as a transparent, efficient and neutral justice system, coupling with lots of transnational divisions in Singapore, which creates an opportunity to develop IP dispute resolution.   To achieve the goal, Singapore puts its hand to enhance capabilities of IP Court and IP alternative dispute resolution for bringing more IP litigations and IP alternative dispute resolution to Singapore. 1. Enhance Capabilities of IP Court (1) Efficiencize Processes   In September 2013, the Registrar of the Supreme Court released Circular 2 of 2013 on the issuance of the IP Court Guide, which will apply to all cases under the IP docket of the Supreme Court with immediate effect. An IP Judge will be assigned to hear all interlocutory appeals, milestone pre-trial conferences (“PTCs”) and the trial on liability.   The IP Court Guide provides for two milestone PTCs before set down for trial whereby the lead counsel must personally attend to address the IP Judge on certain specified issues. All other PTCs will be heard by the senior assistant registrar managing the IP docket. Subject to certain exceptions, an assistant registrar will hear all interlocutory applications arising in each IP case.   In addition, to support the IP Court’s adjudication functions, the IP Court Guide provides for the appointment of assessors (for technical expertise) and amicus curiae (for legal expertise) for IP cases. Parties are encouraged to propose a single candidate by agreement. Otherwise, parties should agree on and propose a shortlist of candidates.   Due to improvement, it is more convenient for parties to track trail status. For IP Judges, they can get familiar with cases and related evidence through PCTs before entering trail process. On the whole, this change increases trail efficiency and quality. (2) Set Up Singapore International Commercial Court   The Ministry of Law proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and the Supreme Court Judicature Act in October 2014. The new legislation and regulations laid the foundation of Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”), which was set up in January 2015.   The SICC, the only one International Commercial Court in Asia, is a division of the Singapore High Court and part of the Supreme Court of Singapore designed to deal with transnational commercial disputes including business issues and patent suits. Key Features of the SICC: A. SICC matters will be heard by a Panel comprising High Court Judges, associate Judges and foreign associate Judges with extensive experience and highly regarded reputation. B. A party may be represented by a registered foreign counsel without any involvement of local Singapore counsel if the matter in question is considered to be an “offshore case”. An “offshore case” is defined in the amended Rules of Court as a case which has no substantial connection to Singapore either because (i) Singapore law is not the law applicable to the dispute and the subject matter of the dispute is not regulated by or otherwise subject to Singapore law, or (ii) The only connection between the dispute and Singapore are the parties’ choice of Singapore as the law applicable to the dispute and the parties’ submission to the SICC’s jurisdiction (“Singapore Law-only Connection”). C. The SICC will hear cases governed by Singapore law and by foreign law, with the Court taking judicial notice of the foreign law. In addition, the SICC is not bound by the domestic rules of evidence at all and may apply other rules of evidence whether they are found in a foreign law or otherwise, if the parties make an application for it. 2.Strengthen Capabilities of IP Alternative Dispute Resolution   Singapore International Arbitration Center (“SIAC”) and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Singapore Office were set up respectively in 1991 and 2001 to strengthen capabilities of IP arbitration. On the basis of these two centers, in order to enrich alternative dispute resolution, Singapore also established Singapore International Mediation Center (“SIMC”) and launched the service of arbitration-mediation-arbitration (“Arb-Med-Arb”) in November 2014.   Arb-Med-Arb is a process where a dispute is referred to arbitration before mediation is attempted. If the parties are able to settle their dispute through mediation, their mediated settlement may be recorded as a consent award. If the parties are unable to settle their dispute through mediation, they may continue with the arbitration proceedings. Arb-Med-Arb is definitely a better way for parties to reach a consensus on a dispute since arbitration is more costly and mediation is less powerful. Conclusion   The SIMC and the SIAC are now collectively working on mediation, Arb-Med-Arb and arbitration and providing various IP alternative dispute resolutions. Moreover, the SICC and IP Court are charged with IP litigation. These make Singapore a comprehensive IP dispute resolution system.   In the process of revolution, Singapore puts itself up to breakthrough as to amendments and the Supreme Court Judicature Act, which establish legitimacy of SICC. The government also defines IP dispute resolution services, such as SIMC’s mediation, Arb-Med-Arb, arbitration as well as SICC features. Nevertheless, other than SIAC, SICC decision may be difficult to enforce transnationally due to lack of legislation.   To sum up, Singapore earns recognition for aggressively proposing amendments and assigning responsibilities after setting IP target and evaluating obstacles; however, it is better to pay special attention to that if the market can keep up with administrative efficiency or if the IP strategy could accord with the demands of the market.

Yearly Update on the Progress of the TIPS Project – summary of a research report on corporate investors’ view on introducing a corporate IP disclosure framework

Chien-Shan Chiu Background In the era where inventions drive the economy, the ability to create, capture and protect these inventive ideas has become vital for a corporation to stay competitive and sustain profit growth. Various government policies have been implemented in order to stimulate inventions and to strengthen the ability to protect these inventions through effective use of intellectual property (“IP”) rights. For the past few years, the TIPS (Taiwan Intellectual Property Management System) project has been promoted extensively aiming to increase public awareness towards IP rights and to assist local companies to establish a systematic and comprehensive IP management system. Over the years, the TIPS project has received wide recognition and positive feedbacks, and many TIPS-implemented companies are ready for the next challenges. After an extensive research, the project proposes to follow the international trend of encouraging companies to make better and more disclosure of intangible assets that are not often shown in the traditional financial statements1 . Local companies with effective IP management system and strategy are encouraged to compile an “Intellectual Property Management Report” summarizing its business, R&D and IP management strategies as well as their accumulated IP assets. In order to compile an Intellectual Property Management Report, a company is advised to re-identify its intellectual property, re-think about its strength and weakness in every aspect and where necessary, the company may also need to re-conduct a market, technology trend or competitor’s analysis, through which it is believed that a better and more effective IP strategy will be re-formulated. Formulating a well-planned corporate strategy that takes into account various IP issues is one of the main reasons for introducing the corporate IP disclosure framework. Promoting the disclosure of IP-related information so that the management efforts, visions and true capabilities of a corporation can be fully disclosed and recognized is the second major reasons for introducing the corporate IP disclosure framework. This essay begins with a brief update on the yearly progress of the TIPS project, follows by a summary of the research report on corporate investors’ view on initiating a framework for enhancing disclosure of corporate IP-related information. The research report contains the result of a survey conducted between April and June this year (year 2009), consisting questions to uncover local investors’ view and attitudes towards corporate IP, and to identify kinds of IP-related information required when making an investment decision as well as to find out to what extend local investors would support the government’s initiative on promoting a corporate IP disclosure framework. Update on the Yearly Progress of the TIPS Project In order to facilitate the promotion of TIPS, several supplementary services have been introduced (fees and expenses are fully or partially subsidized by the government this year) : (1) Free On-Line Self-Assessment Tool; (2) On-Site Diagnostic and Consulting Service (selected companies were fully subsidized); (3) “Demonstrative” Model Companies (selected companies were partially subsidized); (4) IP Management Courses (partially subsidized); (5) On-Site Auditing (for the Conformance of TIPS requirements) and issuing of the TIPS Compliance Certification (fully subsidized) . To the end of 2009, 401enterprises have completed the on-line self-assessment questions; 93 companies have received on-site diagnostic and consultation services; 847 persons have taken the IP management courses; 64 enterprises have successfully obtained the certificates for the compliance of TIPS and more than 299 enterprises have either completed or in the middle of implementing TIPS. Summary of the Research Report on Corporate Investor s’ View on Introducing a Corporate IP Disclosure Framework Even though it is clear that the idea of encouraging corporations to disclose non-financial information has started few decades ago in Europe and are currently being vigorously promoted by many major countries, we believe that in order to facilitate smooth promotion of the new IP disclosure framework, it is important to find out the local investors’ views and attitudes towards IP and to know how investors see the role of IP can play in a local corporation. Hence a survey was conducted at the initial stage of preparing the new corporate IP disclosure framework in Taiwan. The survey was sent via both mails and emails to 357 corporations, including venture capital firms; trust, investment consulting or management firms; security corporations, financial institutions and banks. More than one set of survey questionnaires could be distributed in one corporation to be filled by investors/analysts that are specialized in investing different industrial sectors. As a result, a total of 495 set of questionnaires were distributed.. Basic Data The survey was conducted between April to June 2009. At the end of June, a total of 150 investors/analysts responded which equals to a 33% response rate. Most of the survey respondents specialized in investing in various industrial sectors which include: semi-conductor; telecommunication; electronic components; 3C products; IT; optical; biotechnology; pharmaceuticals; new energy resources; media; creative and culture and traditional manufacturing industries. Around 50% of the survey respondents have more than 5 years’ experience in investment; among them, 23% of the survey respondents have more than 10 years’ investment experience. Investors recognize the importance of IP A remarkable 94% of the survey respondents recognized that the ability to create, protect, manage and exploit IP has become an essential element for a company to stay competitive and sustain growth in today’s market environment. 88% of the survey respondents believe that companies with more or better IP assets are more likely to generate profits and 91% believe that such companies are more likely to survive in this ever-increasing competitive environment. Yet, 94% of the survey respondents agreed that not only a company should actively create IP assets, but the ability to exploit and thus extract value from the accumulated IP assets is what makes a company stand out among the others. Taking a step further, the survey result reveals that the respondent investors believe a company with effective and well-planned IP strategy is likely to: – Enhance its market competitiveness (84%); – Raise its overall corporate value (71%); – Maintain its market position (55%); – Increase its profitability (32%); – Affect its share price (30%); – Assist investors in evaluating such company’s managerial ability and performance (29%) as well as evaluating its future growth potential (28%). IP-related information influences investors’ investment decisions Given that most investors see the ability to create, manage and exploit IP assets as well as having a well-planned IP strategy are crucial for the survival of a company, 82% of the survey respondents indicate that IP-related information has been considered when making an investment decision. Furthermore, 85% of the survey respondents think that they will place greater emphasis on IP in assessing companies in the future. Indicators that used to assess/evaluate a company Most often used IP-related indicators identified by the survey respondents when making investment decisions are: – Core technology and its market competitiveness (77%) – Research ability (experience and achievement) (73%) – IP protection and management measures (41%) – IP strategy (align with overall corporate strategy and market/technology characteristics) (40%) – Ability to fully utilize self-owned IP assets (38%) – R&D expenditure and investment (35%) – No. of IP assets (35%) – Time taken for competing products to enter into the market (33%) – Cost of maintaining IP assets (19%) Ratio of intangible assets as to the overall corporate value (19%) : 20% of the survey respondents indicated that they have turned down investment in the past for inadequate IP awareness of the target companies. List of local companies with good and effective IP strategy The survey respondents were asked to name local Taiwanese companies which in their mind have most effective and sound IP strategy. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Foxconn, United Microelectrc (UMC), HTC, Acer are the top 5 most named companies given by the survey respondents. Having good quality of patents (such as essential or new technology patents); detailed and complete patent map; sound IP strategy; brand and professional IP/legal department are cited as the reasons that impress these investors. Inadequacy of public available IP-related information While most investors acknowledge the importance of IP and take into account various IP-related indicators when making investment decisions, 76% of the survey respondents expressed that currently, the amount of IP-related information disclosed by companies are not sufficient for them to make an informed investment decision. When a question asking the survey respondents to identify the channels by which they obtained their desired IP-related information, the results were quite spread out. 45% of the survey respondents relied on asking the top managers directly; 43% relied on annual report; media and news (35%); website (34%); industrial journals (25%); competitors (15%) and other private channels (15%). It appears that various sources were used but no particular source provides sufficient information. Indeed, a remarkable 91% of the survey respondents believe that if there are more channels provided for corporations to disclose their internal IP information, more accurate assessment of the corporate value can be made. Support government’s initiative of promoting IP reporting framework Further, 73% of the survey respondents expressed their willingness to support the government’ s initiative of encouraging local companies to disclose their IP-related information. In relation to the initiation and promotion of the corporate IP disclosure framework, 64% of the survey respondents responded that it would be better to adopt a voluntarily disclosure policy and decide whether to switch to mandatory disclosure later; 22% think that only a voluntarily disclosure policy should be adopted followed by 14% of the survey respondents who believe that the government should adopt a mandatory disclosure policy from the start. When the survey respondents were asked to provide suggestions to facilitate the promotion of the corporate IP disclosure framework, the following suggestions were picked by the survey respondents: – Provide valuation tools to assist investors in assessing and analyzing IP related information (40%); – a central platform to collect and display all the complied IP management reports (21%); – lists of compulsory items to be disclosed in the report (21%); and – regulate the frequency of updating the contents of the report (15%). Conclusion Based on the results of the survey, we can conclude that the local investors’ view and attitude towards IP are similar to those in overseas. Majority of the investors (> 90%) see IP as valuable tools that could assist companies to create profits and sustain growth in today’s competitive market. While most of the investors (82%) have taken into account relevant IP information when making investment decisions, 76% of the survey respondents expressed that the amount of corporate IP-related information disclosed by companies are insufficient for them to make informed investment decisions. This is an important message that local companies should pay particular attention. It is hoped that through the introduction of the corporate IP disclosure framework, more adequate corporate IP information will be disclosed to assist investors in making better and accurate investment decisions. Consequently, a company’s true capabilities, managerial efforts and the intangible assets created upon can thus be fully appreciated and reflected on its market value. 1 Various national and institutional initiatives addressing the disclosure of corporate intellectual assets are currently being promoted vigorously at the international level such as Japan’s “IA based Management Report, (METI)”; Denmark’s “Intellectual Capital Statement (MSTI)”; European Union’s “Guidelines on Intangibles, MERITUM project”; U.S.’s “EBR 2.0 (Enhance Business Reporting Consortium)”; and The World Intellectual Capital/Assets Initiative (WICI) is currently working on developing a voluntary global framework for measuring and reporting corporate performance.

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