AIRR Data Under the E.U. Trade Secrets Directive: Aligning Scientific Practices with Commercial Realities
The Harmonization and Protection of Trade Secrets in the E.U. (Jens Schovsbo, Timo Minssen & Thomas Riis eds.) (Edward Elgar, 2019 Forthcoming)
23 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 14, 2018
Whether the E.U. Trade Secrets Directive sufficiently and appropriately covers cutting-edge complex technologies is of critical interest to policy-makers, scientists, and commercial developers alike. One such technology — adaptive immune receptor repertoire sequencing, or AIRR-seq — raises difficult questions concerning what information is and should be protected under the new Directive, and how to best align scientific practices with commercial realities. The ‘raw’ form AIRR-seq data — massive genetic datasets of hundreds of millions of individuals’ immune cells — tends to be freely shared among academic researchers, thus typically destroying the protectability of the underlying information. But follow-on data — essentially, information interpreting that data — is nonetheless protectable under the Directive because it is both economically valuable and not readily available from an examination of the raw data itself. Protecting this follow-on information while encouraging the free sharing of AIRR-seq data best accords the purpose of the Trade Secrets Directive. Lessons from the case of AIRR-seq data also sheds light on other puzzles concerning the tensions between disclosure and various forms of legal protections, such as the mutual exclusivity of patents and trade secrets, the sharing of clinical trial data, and protecting genetic diagnostics.
Keywords: AIRR, immune receptor, antibodies, TCRs, EU, trade secrets, science, genetic data, big data, follow-on data, patents, clinical trials, diagnostics
JEL Classification: K00, K23, K41, O3, O34, D23, K11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation