Notos brochure


Know-how can be defined as the total of the non-disclosed, economically relevant technical corporate secrets (e.g. design data, source code, formulations) and non-technical business secrets (e.g. customer data, sources of supply) of an enterprise.

For knowledge-based companies know-how is essential and forms the foundation for acquiring, defending and building up of its market position. The knowledge of a company can only be transferred to formal special property rights such as patents or registered designs through the keeping of secrets.

Already today the German legal orders (and here in particular Articles 17, 18 and 19 UWG of the German Act against Unfair Competition) and most foreign legal orders protect know-how against its being unlawfully acquired as well as against its being unlawfully used and disclosed by third parties. A draft European directive permits the hope that in the next few years know-how protection will be arranged in a uniform manner and thereby further strengthened.

Particularly in cases of infringement as well as in other special situations such the sale of a company (a part or assets thereof), raising of outside capital, situations of employees moving or corporate crises it is to be seen how valuable know-how is for knowledge-based companies when it is available in a dedicated manner and documented in a manner that will stand up in court.

Notos attorneys have been advising companies for years in the identification and safeguarding of know-how capable of being protected; of particular importance here are the following measures:

  • building up the corporate know-how in a defined manner,
  • making it available in a dedicated manner in accordance with the need-to-know fundamental,
  • documenting it in a manner that will stand up in court, and
  • safeguarding it in contractual, organizational and technical terms.

In a case of infringement the fact that these measures have been carried out permit legal action to be taken rapidly and effectively. Here Notos attorneys make use of the practical experience acquired by numerous court proceedings in which technical corporate secrets and/or non-technical business secrets have been infringed, in particular by (former) employees of the company.

Where this is necessary we co-ordinate the co-operation with:

  • IT forensic scientists,
  • IT security companies,
  • accountancy firms,
  • defense attorneys,
  • state prosecutors,
  • the police, and
  • business psychologists
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