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Trade secrets not so secret in PH, says UK report

Trade secrets get the least protection in the Philippines compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, at a time when the digital age has made information “easier to steal,” a report showed.

A report from England-based public policy research organization Geneva Network said the Philippines’ intellectual property law was not clear on the protection of trade secrets.

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“While the Philippines IP law includes ‘protection of undisclosed information’ as one of the intellectual property rights, it does not define it, leaving great uncertainty around the protection of trade secrets,” the report read.

The report titled “The importance of Intellectual Property Rights for progress” was based on inputs from select think tanks in Southeast Asia as well as publicly available information on intellectual property.

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The report also cited the 2019 International IP Index Global, which was released earlier this year by the Global Innovation Policy Center, an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce.

The index showed that when it came to the protection of trade secrets and confidential business information, the Philippines was behind its Southeast Asian peers, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Philip Stevens, executive director and founder of Geneva Network, told reporters on the sidelines of the report’s launch that the government should “prioritize clearing up any ambiguity” in the law on trade secrets.

This, he said, is because uncertainties of the law could be exploited by rival companies. Trade secrets give companies a competitive edge, and these include recipes for popular products and technical information on industrial processes.

“It will encourage commercial rivals [to exploit] the laxity of the law to the detriment of Filipino companies,” he said.

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