I.Protect: Trade secrets-A A +A
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Clint Fabiosa & Ana Liza Villamor
CAN a company unilaterally declare a “technology” as a trade secret? In the case of Air Phils. vs. Penswell, G. R. No. 172835, Dec. 13, 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that a trade secret may consist of any formula, pattern, device, or compilation of information that: 1) is used in one’s business; and 2) gives the employer an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not possess the information. In the case of Cocoland Development Corp. vs. NLRC, GR No. 98458, July 17, 1996, an employer dismissed its employee on the ground that the latter divulged to certain farmers the former’s “technology in coffee preparation techniques,” which is supposed to be a trade secret.
The employee countered that the technology was no longer confidential since the same had been learned and applied by third parties or small farm owners since 1986. The High Court ruled that the so-called technology was hardly a trade secret since the employee established convincingly via competent evidence that the various propagation techniques claimed by the company as its trade secret were readily available to the public.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 29, 2012.