Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Trade Secrets, Safe Harbors, and International Trade

W. Keith Robinson, Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law


The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed trade agreement that establishes terms for trade and business between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations. The United States has withdrawn from the TPP, but interest in the agreement remains because some of its provisions serve as a template for future international trade deals. This article focuses on the TPP provisions concerning trade secrets and Internet Service Provider (ISP) Safe Harbors. While both provisions mirror U.S. law, they do lack certain "safeguards." Commentators have observed that the absence of these safeguards unfairly favor the interests of large corporations and rights holders over individuals and the public. This article argues for a flexible approach that encourages participating countries to include safeguards in future trade agreements that are missing from the TPP. Adding these safeguards will balance the interests of individuals with the interests of corporations and large rights holders.