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Beijing Intellectual Property Court releases 10 typical cases of infringement of trade secrets


On November 30th, 2023, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court held a press conference to release the ten typical cases of infringement of trade secrets. These cases are significant in clarifying the judicial thinking and rules for handling trade secret infringement cases, enhancing awareness of self-protection and compliance for businesses, and fostering a favorable atmosphere in society that respects and protects trade secrets. We will provide a complete translation of the case details and analysis text released by the Beijing Intellectual Property Court as follows:


Case 6: Infringement of Geographic Information System Software Trade Secret Case


Case Overview


A certain technology corporation (referred to as Company A) is primarily engaged in the research and sale of geographic information system software. Five individuals, including Mr. Liu, were former employees of Company A and, after leaving, established a certain smart technology limited company (referred to as Company B), which also engages in the research of geographic information system software. Company A claims that Mr. Liu and the other five individuals illegally obtained the trade secrets of Company A’s Longsoft Geospatial Information System software (referred to as the implicated geospatial software) and that Company B, despite being aware that the implicated geospatial software belonged to Company A’s trade secrets, still used it to develop the “Yuantu Geospatial Information System – Trial Version.exe” software (referred to as the accused infringing software). They allege that these actions violated Article 10, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the 1993 Anti-Unfair Competition Law. Therefore, they filed a lawsuit in the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, requesting an injunction against Company B and Mr. Liu, immediate recall and destruction of related products that infringe on trade secrets, and joint compensation for economic losses totaling 1 million yuan.


After trial, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court found that the accused infringing software of Company B was not substantially identical to the implicated geospatial software. Therefore, Company B and Mr. Liu did not infringe on Company A’s trade secrets. Accordingly, the court dismissed Company A’s lawsuit.

Company A was dissatisfied with the first-instance judgment and appealed to the second-instance court. The second-instance court upheld the original judgment and rejected the appeal.





Key Points of the Judgment


When there is evidence suggesting that the alleged infringer had access or opportunity to obtain trade secrets and the information they use is substantially the same as those trade secrets, if the alleged infringer fails to prove that the information they used was obtained legally or did not actually infringe on trade secrets, it can be presumed that the alleged infringer engaged in trade secret infringement. To apply this presumption, the rights holder must prove that the alleged infringer had access to trade secrets and that the information used is substantially identical to their own trade secrets.


When determining whether the accused infringing information is substantially identical to the rights holder’s trade secrets, the rights holder’s claimed technical information should be considered as a whole, and partial substantial identity should not be used as a substitute for overall substantial identity.

In this case, although it can be presumed that Mr. Liu and the other five individuals had the possibility of accessing the trade secrets of Company A based on their responsibilities at Company A, the portion of the technical information claimed by Company A was relatively small when compared to the source code of Company B’s accused infringing software. Overall, it did not reach the level of substantial identity. Therefore, the evidence in the case was insufficient to prove that Company B and Mr. Liu engaged in trade secret infringement against Company A.

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