Assignment of trade secrets: selling moonbeams in a jar?

No-one seems to have picked up on the song reference in the title to this golden oldie. Two golden oldies for the price of one…

IP Draughts

moonbeam jarA recent article on IPKat, Assignment and licence-back of a trade secret: no yawning matter, has prompted IP Draughts to remove the dustsheets from one of his favourite hobbyhorses.  As discussed briefly on this blog here in 2011, IP Draughts is troubled by the very idea of an assignment of know-how.

First, we need to define our terms.  The title of this article, echoing the IPKat article mentioned earlier, refers to trade secrets, while the earlier article on this blog, linked above, referred to know-how.

In English law and, as far as he understands them, US laws, “trade secrets” are generally regarded as the most sensitive items of confidential information, and are distinguished from less important categories of confidential information. It is not always easy to make the distinction.  Nearly a century ago, Lord Parker in the case of Herbert Morris Ltd v Saxelby [1916] 1 AC 688 came…

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