Corporate Cybersecurity Realism: Managing Trade Secrets in a World Where Breaches Occur

Published in the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal, Volume 43, Numbers 2/3, Spring/Summer 2015

28 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2014 Last revised: 19 Aug 2015

John Villasenor

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); The Brookings Institution

Date Written: August 1, 2015

Abstract

Cybersecurity intrusions aimed at extracting trade secrets are an unfortunate feature of the 21st century business landscape. In response, many companies have made cybersecurity a top priority, and their networks and systems have become much more secure as a result.

However, while improving security is a critical goal, it should not be the only goal. Companies also need to give attention to what might be called corporate cybersecurity elephant in the room: How does the inevitability that their networks will sometimes be compromised impact best practices for handling trade secrets despite those breaches? This paper aims to provide some answers to that question.

As discussed herein, companies should 1) “segment” not only their networks but also the trade secret information on those networks, thereby limiting the impact of any single cybersecurity breach, 2) avoid overreliance on NDAs, since over-disclosure can lead to increased exposure to cyber-enabled trade secret theft, 3) act more quickly on patentable inventions in light of recent changes to U.S. patent law that can increase the incentives driving trade secret theft, 4) ensure that cybersecurity considerations are be part of patent/trade secret decisions, and 5) be aware of — and, as appropriate, take advantage of — new changes to U.S. patent law the increase the potential benefits of early commercial use of trade secrets.

Keywords: cybersecurity, cyberespionage, trade secrets, patents, trade secret misappropriation, prior commercial use

Suggested Citation

Villasenor, John, Corporate Cybersecurity Realism: Managing Trade Secrets in a World Where Breaches Occur (August 1, 2015). Published in the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal, Volume 43, Numbers 2/3, Spring/Summer 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2488756 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2488756

John Villasenor (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

420 Westwood Plaza
Engineering IV Building
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

The Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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