For some technology areas like medical diagnostics and software-implemented technologies, recent legal developments have made patent rights more difficult to obtain and enforce. When patents fall short, intellectual property owners have the option of relying on trade secret law to protect technology assets that confer a definable economic advantage over competitors.
In the past few months, both houses of Congress have proposed changes to federal trade secret laws. Those proposals outline a new civil litigation enforcement channel that could increase the value of intellectual property held as trade secrets. It’s probably too soon for rights holders to begin celebrating. But given the breadth of the proposals in light of the current law, the future may hold expanded relief for misappropriation that creates a strong incentive for actors to preserve trade secrets, broadly promoting stability and predictability of commercial activity.