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Seminar - “What’s in the Mind?”: Strategies for Protecting Trade Secrets in an Environment of Employee Mobility

When: Friday, March 8, 2019 - 14:30 to 16:45
Venue: SMU School of Law, 55 Armenian Street, Level 2, Seminar room 2.02, Singapore 179943


Much of the economic value of modern companies consists of secret know-how. Protection of such know-how is becoming increasingly challenging as mobile technology, employee mobility, international economic espionage and the sophistication of hackers. give rise to a myriad of ways in which secret information can be disclosed. 

In response to this threat, in recent years many countries have enacted laws to protect secret know-how. These laws vary from one jurisdiction to another and may take the form of statutory protection of trade secrets, common law norms of confidence or unfair competition. Their general tenor is to protect against improper acquisition, use or disclosure of information that has economic value and has been subject to “reasonable efforts” to keep it secret. (TRIPS, Art. 39; EU TSD, US-DTSA).  

One of the most controversial issues currently, is the handling of knowledge and know-how accumulated over the years, by departing employees who go to work for a competitor. Courts face the challenge of trying to protect a company’s secret know-how on the one hand, while on the other avoiding violation of employee’s interests in free professional mobility.  From a policy standpoint this is a weighty decision, as it may impact innovation in high-tech clusters such as Silicon Valley, Shenzhen or Bangalore.

Statutorily the prohibition against misappropriating trade secrets is stated at a very general level. However, resolution of an individual trade secrets case is highly fact-specific. Courts are guided to a large extent by precedents with factual similarity. A good source of precedent is the of rich and diverse trade secret jurisprudence in the US state law. 

Based on the available case law, this lecture aims to crystallize parameters and best practices for parties dealing with departing employees involving trade secrets. We will seek to develop evidentiary factors, which may be relevant to a court in handling injunctions or other forms of relief. We will also consider the dynamics of non-compete and non-disclosure clauses in this context.


Dana Beldiman teaches IP law at UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, USA and at Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany. Prof. Dr. Beldiman is the Founder and Academic Director of the Bucerius IP Center, and responsible for all IP involved in research, teaching, international research collaboration and supervision of doctoral candidates. She lectures and speaks at various institutions in the US. Her interests lie in comparative aspects of IP law, with a focus on trademark, design and trade secret law and she has published and spoken extensively in this field. Ms. Beldiman has received legal education in both the US and Germany. In addition to her academic activities, she is a partner with Squire, Patton, Boggs, San Francisco (USA), where she practices primarily IP law and IP-related international transactions.


Public CPD Points - 2 points

This programme is an Accredited CPD Activity under the SILE’s CPD Scheme. Participants who wish to claim CPD Points are reminded that they must comply strictly with the Attendance Policy set out in the CPD Guidelines. This includes signing-in on arrival and signing-out at the conclusion of the activity in the manner required by the organiser, and not being absent from the entire activity for more than 15 minutes. Participants who do not comply with the Attendance Policy will not be able to obtain CPD Points for attending the activity. Please refer to for more information.

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The event is jointly organized with the SMU Law Academy.

Last updated on 12 Jun 2019 .