Silicon Valley’s Favourite Intellectual Property

Intellectual property rights online are obviously a topic of hot debate as the digital domain expands, just think about ACTA and SOPA/PIPA. The so-called reformists are in most cases pirate ideologists and Silicon Valley- and telecom businesses, the traditionalists are the content creators and producers. No surprise there. Traditionally, intellectual property rights are divided into three main categories: patents, trademarks, and copyright. There are of course difference in scope, subject matter, regulation and much more between these three, but the basic idea is the same: by law guarantee commercial exclusivity for creators of intangible values. But there is one more type of intellectual property that is as important and sought-after outside these Big Three: business secrets. That’s right, the intangible values inside companies are often central to commercial success (that’s why they are secrets…) and sometimes the target of industrial espionage.  As Paul Frigyes described in the week’s column, business secrets in terms of user data is an increasingly important asset to the cloud services. So next time somebody talks about openness, accessibility and intellectual property reform, it is fair to ask if they would include business secrets in such a reform.