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The Protection of Industrial Trade Secrets: Promotion and Advice for European Companies Developing their IP Portfolio in China

Federica Costanza Fontani

In today's knowledge society, in particular for economies such as Europe whose competitiveness relies essentially on creativity and innovation, the effective protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) is crucial. This applies not only to physical goods, but also to digital goods, considering the ease with which they are illegally copied and disseminated.The acceleration of globalisation and the world trade opening up have an asymmetric impact on EU Member States and on the emerging powers. This in turn tends to exacerbate existing differences and create new ones. One of the effects of globalisation, is the relocation of production, from the technology- rich countries towards low labour cost countries. In the former, there is a vast pool of know-how waiting to be untapped; while, in emerging markets there is an enormous demand for know-how, waiting to be filled.This study, inspired by recent works of the European Commission, approaches the topic of Trade Secrets as a form of IPRs; from one side, the European legal perspective and, on the other, analysing the Europe- China dialogue and co-operation in commercial relations.The paper is focused on the commercial relation between China and Europe. In the emerging powers, China remains the main challenge regarding IPRs enforcement, not only because it attracted the most responses and the strongest concerns from EU industry, but also because 73% of all suspected imported goods detained at EU borders in 2011 and not released, came from China.In 2004 Europe and China established a framework co-operation and dialogue in the area of IPR, with two components: an EU-China IP Dialogue and IP Working Group. The need for China to better protect IPRs is a constant message conveyed by the European Commission to Chinese authorities at all governmental levels, including the highest.Within the European initiative aligned with Europe 2020 (flagship of the initiative is "Innovative Union"), European Union cohesion policy would benefit from clarifying its goals (poverty reduction, increased employment, etc.) and thus making sure that they were widely understood.

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