The One Hundred and Sixty-First Report released by the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee On Commerce on July 23rd last year was based on the ‘Review of Intellectual Property Rights Regime in India’. One of the findings in the report was that the current framework for protecting trade secrets lacked clarity and did not provide adequate protection to the trade secret holders. In order to overcome this shortcoming, the report strongly put forward a suggestion for a separate statute for trade secret protection in India by citing examples of the US, EU, and South Korea. Whether India needs to adopt such a model of trade secret protection is a policy question that is of utmost significance.
India has been following the common law approach for trade secret protection for a very long time. India has mostly adopted trade secret principles from English law, which is evident from the cases cited by the Indian courts. Amidst the criticisms that India needs a strong legal mechanism for trade secret protection, the first legislative attempt made in this area was the National Innovation Bill of 2008(hereafter referred to as the Innovation bill).
Unfortunately, the bill was not tabled in Parliament. Hence it remained in its infant stage. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of the legislature re-visiting the draft in case there arises a strong need for legislation. Hence, it is important to have a critical look at the provisions of the bill dealing with trade secrets in order to evaluate the adequacy of the bill in protecting trade secrets.