The EUIPO through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights has launched a report on Protecting Innovation through Trade Secrets and Patents: Determinants for European Union Firms.
The report uses data from the Community Innovation Survey for 24 EU Member States to examine the economic importance of trade secrets and their relation with patents.
The study finds that the use of trade secret is higher than the use of patents for most types of companies (although it is particularly prevalent among SMEs), in most economic sectors and in all Member States.
Market novelty and innovation in tangible goods are associated with a preference for patents while process and service innovations are more often protected through secrecy.
However, in general, the study finds that there is complementarity between the use of trade secrets and patents—many companies use both methods to protect their innovations.
The results of this study will provide a basis for policy-makers and companies to further develop policies in this area following the adoption of the Trade Secrets Directive in 2016.