Journal Article

Trade secret licensing: the art of the possible

John Hull

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 4, issue 3, pages 203-212
Published in print March 2009 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
Trade secret licensing: the art of the possible

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  • Arbitration
  • Intellectual Property Law


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Legal context

Most IP licences are licences of statutory property rights. In this article, the author explores how trade secret and know how licences are different.

Key points

It is now widely accepted that trade secrets, confidential information, and know how are not property rights at all. This distinguishes a trade secret licence from other IP rights licences, but also prompts the question: does an ordinary non-disclosure agreement amount to a licence and if not how does it align itself with a trade secret licence? Given the inherently ‘perishable’ nature of a trade secret, what practical steps can the draftsman of a licence use to ensure that the rights licensed are protected.

Practical significance

Finally, from a practical perspective, the author explores whether language makes a difference? It is common to talk in terms of trade secrets, know how, and confidential information, but does this terminology make any difference to the substance of a licence of these rights?

Journal Article.  8009 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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