Know-how Protection

Know-how: crucial to success

Acquiring and protecting knowledge are now essential factors in the success of any organisation. Knowledge of technology, products and processes helps to determine how innovative a company is and the extent of its competitive edge.

Know-how protection and online risk analysis from CMS

Our online risk analysis tool helps you assess the level of know-how protection in your organisation. It enables you to gain an initial overview of the vulnerabilities in your organisation with regard to trade secrets and sensitive data.

New risks around know-how protection

As the business world becomes ever more interlinked and information processing chains grow longer, there is an increasing risk of confidential business information and sensitive data being intercepted and know-how falling into the wrong hands.

While modern communication technology facilitates the sharing of knowledge within organisations and with customers and business partners, decentralisation of corporate data (e.g. through the replacement of static storage with cloud-based systems) and greater use of mobile devices also makes companies more susceptible to industrial espionage, the unauthorised disclosure of business secrets or other unwanted outflows of know-how.

Know-how protection as a corporate challenge

Active know-how protection affects almost every area of a business – sensitive information is not limited to research and development departments. Employees who routinely have access to supplier and customer data, accounts, business strategies or production reports all hold a wealth of knowledge that every company needs to protect.

From a commercial viewpoint, know-how is thus increasingly becoming at least as important as established intangible assets such as patents, trademarks and designs.

Complex legal situation surrounding company-related know-how

The legal position relating to know-how protection is complex and unsatisfactory. At present, there is no comprehensive legislation on know-how protection, either in Germany or at European Union level. It is thus necessary to draw on a number of different individual laws in order to protect trade secrets.

To provide consistent protection of trade secrets across the EU, the European Commission adopted Directive (EU) 2016/943 of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. This Directive came into force on 5 July 2016. Under its provisions, a party can only rely successfully on legal protection of confidential information if it can be evidenced that the information in question has been “subject to reasonable steps under the circumstances ... to keep it secret”. As a result, it is now more difficult to protect your know-how.

How do your know-how protection arrangements measure up? – Find out!

How well are trade secrets protected in your organisation? It takes just ten minutes to find out whether your company needs to take action to protect its know-how.

We have created a special online stress test to establish the level of risk: www.know-how-protect.de