IQE has filed a lawsuit against Tower for misappropriating its trade secrets. There are not many details in the public domain yet and reading anything in the general media can lead to confusion as journalists often think all words describing intellectual property rights are interchangeable!

What we know is that IQE, one of the UK’s largest chip manufacturers, has filed in the US Federal Court in California against Israeli-based rival Tower Semiconductor. Since most companies will restrict trade secrets to those who need to know, IQE's statement suggests there has been an underhand attempt to access this information. The most common ways are phishing, breach of a confidentiality agreement, disgruntled (soon to be) ex-employee oversharing or corporate espionage. 

Until we learn more, all of this is speculation and we can't draw any conclusions. But there are steps you can take in the meantime to check your trade secrets remain secret. You should put in place robust procedures to limit information to employees and partners on a need-to-know basis and don't overshare. Implement strong security not just to prevent external hackers but also internal misuse by staff.

If you need advice, contact me or +44 (0) 20 7611 2338.