Trade Secrecy and International Transactions

Trade Secrecy and International Transactions

Law and Practice

Elgar Intellectual Property Law and Practice series

Elizabeth Rowe and Sharon K. Sandeen

Providing a valuable source of information on the law and practice of trade secrecy in international business transactions, this book provides concise but authoritative insight into international trade secret harmonization efforts and the trade secret laws of many countries. Trade secret law in the United States is promoted as the international standard for trade secret protection and a detailed explanation of the scope and limits of trade secret law in the US is presented here alongside practical guidance on how businesses can enhance trade secret protection while engaging in global commerce.


Elizabeth Rowe and Sharon K. Sandeen

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, law -professional, intellectual property law


One of the challenges to understanding trade secret law in the United States relates to the fact that US trade secret law is primarily based upon the laws of each of the 50 states. Because the US government is organized as a federal system with most legislative power (at least in theory) residing in the states, the US Congress has limited powers to adopt laws to regulate activities in individual states. The principal exceptions include the powers granted to the US Congress under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution ‘to regulate commerce among foreign nations, and among the several states, and with Indian tribes’ and the provision of the US Constitution that grants Congress the exclusive power to adopt patent and copyright laws. To date, however, the US Congress has not exercised its Commerce Clause powers to adopt a federal civil trade secret law, relying instead on a combination of well-established state laws and some overarching federal policies. Among the 50 states, the harmonization of state laws is achieved through three basic processes: (1) the common law development of the law whereby judges adopt the views of judges from other states and thereby create a ‘majority view’ on a given point of law; (2) statutory enactments whereby legislators of one state adopt statutes already enacted in other states; and (3) the uniform law-making process whereby an entity drafts and proposes uniform laws for adoption by all 50 states.

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