Why do we need a new federal law concerning trade secrecy? In a recent post on the U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), I asked why are we considering the DTSA. The answer is the attempt at increased protection for the bio-pharmaceutical industry--particularly securing the investment in expensive (and hugely profitable) socially-beneficial biologics (and the software industry post-Alice, but more on that later). This issue apparently has not been fully explored in the debates concerning the DTSA in light of the changes to the U.S. Leahy-Smith America Invents Act and subsequent patent law discussed below (or at least it hasn't received the attention it deserves).
In an excellent article by Professor Nicholson Price and Arti Rai titled, "Manufacturing Barriers to Biologics Competition and Innovation," the authors discuss the importance of trade secrecy to the manufacturing of biologics and how trade secrecy raises the price of biosimilars (almost like generics). Importantly, more consistent trade secret protection will help protect manufacturing related information, including processes and materials, concerning biologics from potential misappropriation by former employees, competitors, collaborators and others. This information includes, importantly, research related to biologics in the pipeline. Firms will still likely seek patent protection over biologics and related information (although some may not), but trade secrecy will help secure the value of the investment in difficult (currently) to reverse engineer complex biologics (especially given the problems with detecting patent infringement). Professors Price and Rai explain how complicated large molecule biologics take a substantial amount of time and expense to reverse engineer, here.
|"He's so nice. He would never throw his hat at me |
(or his shoe for that matter). Please make me purr!"
[Happy belated St. Patrick's Day!]
Additionally, a recent decision by the U.S. district court in Helsinn v. Dr. Reddy's and Teva (as extensively covered by Patently-O) interprets AIA prior art provisions to overrule the venerable Metalizing Engineering Co. v. Kenyon Bearing & Auto Parts case. Metalizing held that an inventor's non-informing exploitation of the invention was patent defeating prior art against the inventor. As Maier notes, "not only could an inventor secretly practice the invention without impact to his right to seek patent protection later, but he could also theoretically sell the invention, assuming that sale is not an open sale to the public, but rather a secret sale (for example, the sale of inventive manufacturing equipment from one corporation to another pursuant to a confidentiality agreement and without that equipment becoming "'available to the public.')." These developments make trade secrecy an attractive option.
|Curious--they are all the same rank.|
This is all quite curious. Could it be a conspiracy?! Strong product patent protection for biologics combined with more robust trade secret protection for biologic-related processes and materials--the future of the bio-pharmaceutical industry because of the drying up pipeline for small molecule drugs. For those who have played the game Clue (or Cluedo) or watched the movie, you'll know it was Colonel Klink, Colonel Sanders and Colonel Mustard in the dining room with a candle stick! Should we spend more time and effort discussing this issue before passage of the DTSA? What does it mean for trade secrets and the EU? [I am grateful for Professor Sharon Sandeen's comments concerning this issue.]