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Protecting trade secrets in China: history and context

Ping Xiong and Philip Griffith

Keywords: trade secrets; China; secrets as state property; TRIPS Art 39; Chinese legislation; criminal and administrative enforcement; private civil rights

The development of laws concerning the protection of trade secrets in China is a reflection of the ongoing needs and demands of the great changes in the Chinese economy. This paper offers a historical overview of the development of trade secret protection laws in China and examines how the changes in the concept of property ownership in China at different stages, the Chinese Law Against Unfair Competition and the influence of foreign sources, especially the TRIPS Agreement and the US trade secrets law, shaped the development of trade secrets protection in China. The paper proffers some observations upon the uncertain distinction between secrets seen as state property and the recognition of private civil commercial trade secrets.

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