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Comment: Discovery Orders and the Protection of Trade Secrets: “In Camera Proceedings/FOMA” and “KCM v. Viel

Patent Act, Sec. 105 para. 1

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  1. 1.

    See this issue of IIC at doi:10.1007/s40319-017-0651-5.

  2. 2.

    See this issue of IIC at doi:10.1007/s40319-017-0650-6.

  3. 3.

    The 1934 Unfair Competition Prevention Act was amended in 1990 in order to provide for the protection of trade secrets outside contractual relationships: Law No. 66/1990. Prior to this amendment, the courts refused to grant protection of trade secrets under tort law: Decision of the Tokyo High Court of 5 September 1966, Doi Digest 1971, 92 – “Waukesha”.

  4. 4.

    While discovery orders were completely unknown, only concretely identified documents from the other side could be requested, Sec. 223 Code of Civil Procedure. Yet, until the decision of the Tokyo High Court, 20 May 1997 – Solvay v. Kissei Pharmaceutical – “Sale of Pharmaceuticals” (40 IIC 452 (1999) = 1601 Hanrei Jihō 143) and Osaka District Court, 4 December 2001, 44 IIC 203 (2003), the defendants could withhold any such documents alleging that they contained trade secrets. The court in these decisions held that this was no good reason for not producing the documents, highlighting the need for legislative intervention in this field.

  5. 5.

    Of interest is particularly Sec. 222, which no longer requires the applicant to precisely identify the document to be produced.

  6. 6.

    This of course is no help where the other party to the lawsuit is a competitor: M. Takabe, “Intellectual Property Litigation: Future Issues” 33(3) AIPPI Journal (English Edition) 143 (2008): “This restriction simply prevents third parties from inspecting and copying the record of litigation, and such protection is not available to the other party to the proceedings.”

  7. 7.

    Where documents are not produced despite a judicial order and without any good reason, the court can assume that the applicant’s allegations concerning the contents of the documents are proven, Sec. 224 Code of Civil Procedure.

  8. 8.

    T. Makino, “Himitsu hoji meirei oyobi himitsu hoji meirei torikeshi no jitsumu (Practice on secrecy orders and the repeal of secrecy orders)”, 55 AIPPI Journal 606, 612 (2010). In the current case, the court mentions the existence of a secrecy agreement between the parties, but was not convinced that this would adequately protect the interests of the respondent (plaintiff in the action).

  9. 9.

    T. Abe and H. Hwang, “Protective Order in Japan”, in: Liber Amicorum Guntram Rahn (Kluwer 2011), p. 253.

  10. 10.

    Although experts are not mentioned, they seem to be included: T. Makino et al., “Chiteki zaisan kōtōsaibanshō sōchi hō oyobi siabanshōhō tō ni tusite no ichibu no kaisei suru hōritsu (On the amendment of the Act for Establishing the Intellectual Property High Court)”, 2005 Chizai Kanri 449, 478.

  11. 11.

    W. Sueyoshi, “Himitsu hoji meirei ni tsuite (On Protective Orders)”, 27 L&T 19 (2005).

  12. 12.

    R. Mimura/T. Yamada, “Chitseki zaisan soshō ni okeru himitsu hoji meirei no unyo ni tsuite (On the practice of protective orders in IP lawsuits)” 1170 Hanrei Times 4, 10 (2005).

  13. 13.

    Japanese Supreme Court, 27 January 2009, 41 IIC 858 (2010).

  14. 14.

    Directive 2004/48/EC of The European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

  15. 15.

    Directive (EU) 2016/943 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure.

  16. 16.

    European Court of Justice, 14 February 2008, case C-450/06.

  17. 17.

    UK Court of Appeal, 7 May 1975, Warner-Lambert Co. v. Glaxo Laboratories Ltd., [1975] R.P.C. 354.

  18. 18.

    Josef Kohler, “Prozeßrechtliche Forschungen”, pp. 83–88 (Berlin 1889).

  19. 19.

    EU Directive 2004/48/EC.

  20. 20.

    Astrid Stadler, “Geheimnisschutz im Zivilprozeß aus deutscher Sicht”, 123 Zeitschrift für Zivilprozeß 261 (2010).

  21. 21.

    Although a right of inspection of devices was already contained in Sec. 809 Civil Code (1900), the courts refused to properly apply the provision: Federal Supreme Court, decision of 8 January 1985 – “Druckbalken”, 1985 GRUR 512, with critical comment by Stauder. Different only Federal Supreme Court, 2 May 2002, 41 IIC 331 (2003) – “Fax Card”. For the situation prior to 1990, the reader is referred to Hans Marshall, “Der Besichtigungsanspruch (The Right of Inspection)”, in; Festschrift Albert Preu (Writings in the Honour of Albert Preu), p. 151 (Munich 1988).

  22. 22.

    Frankfurt Court of Appeal, 4 May 2011, 2012 GRUR-RR 10149.

  23. 23.

    Federal Supreme Court, 13 December 2007, GRUR 2008, 727 – “Schweißmodulgenerator”.

  24. 24.

    Thomas Kühnen, “Eine Besichtigung im Patentrecht (An Inspection under Patent Law)”, 2005 GRUR 185.

  25. 25.

    Federal Supreme Court – 16 November 2009, 2010 GRUR 318 – “Lichtbogenschnürung”.

  26. 26.

    The measure is clearly exploratory and may serve to remove the petitioner’s doubt as to whether or not there is infringement. The measure is further granted ex parte, and for patents does not even require a granted right but merely a published patent application. It is thus obvious that there is ample room for abuse.

  27. 27.

    French Supreme Court (CC 2nd Civil Chamber), 8 December 2009, case 08-21225, and 19 March 2013, case 12-13880.

  28. 28.

    So held also in French Supreme Court (CC 1st Civil Chamber), 31 January 2008, case 06-14.303.

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Correspondence to Christopher Heath.

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Heath, C. Comment: Discovery Orders and the Protection of Trade Secrets: “In Camera Proceedings/FOMA” and “KCM v. Viel”. IIC 48, 997–1005 (2017).

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  • Trade Secrets
  • French Supreme Court
  • Private Ordering
  • Civil Procedure
  • Tokyo High Court