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Revelation of industrial secrets, A292 Revised Penal Code

1. Concept

Revelation of industrial secrets – under the Revised Penal Code, refers to the crime of revealing industrial secrets of a manufacturing or industrial establishment.

a. Legal basis

Art. 292. Revelation of industrial secrets. – The penalty of prisión correccional in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) shall be imposed upon the person in charge, employee or workman of any manufacturing or industrial establishment who, to the prejudice of the owner thereof, shall reveal the secrets of the industry of the latter. (As amended by R.A. 10951)

(Revised Penal Code)

b. Purpose

[T]he Revised Penal Code endows a cloak of protection to trade secrets under [Article 291 and 292]. (Air Philippines Corporation v. Pennswell, Inc., G.R. No. 172835, December 13 2007, Per Chico-Nazario, J.)

[I]n accordance with our statutory laws, this Court has declared that intellectual and industrial property rights cases are not simple property cases. Without limiting such industrial property rights to trademarks and trade names, this Court has ruled that all agreements concerning intellectual property are intimately connected with economic development. The protection of industrial property encourages investments in new ideas and inventions and stimulates creative efforts for the satisfaction of human needs. It speeds up transfer of technology and industrialization, and thereby bring about social and economic progress. Verily, the protection of industrial secrets is inextricably linked to the advancement of our economy and fosters healthy competition in trade. (Air Philippines Corporation v. Pennswell, Inc. [2007], supra.)

c. Private character of trade secrets

Jurisprudence has consistently acknowledged the private character of trade secrets. There is a privilege not to disclose one’s trade secrets. Foremost, this Court has declared that trade secrets and banking transactions are among the recognized restrictions to the right of the people to information as embodied in the Constitution. [The Supreme Court] said that the drafters of the Constitution also unequivocally affirmed that, aside from national security matters and intelligence information, trade or industrial secrets (pursuant to the Intellectual Property Code and other related laws) as well as banking transactions (pursuant to the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act), are also exempted from compulsory disclosure. (Air Philippines Corporation v. Pennswell, Inc. [2007], supra.)

Significantly, our cases on labor are replete with examples of a protectionist stance towards the trade secrets of employers. For instance, this Court upheld the validity of the policy of a pharmaceutical company prohibiting its employees from marrying employees of any competitor company, on the rationalization that the company has a right to guard its trade secrets, manufacturing formulas, marketing strategies and other confidential programs and information from competitors. Notably, it was in a labor-related case that this Court made a stark ruling on the proper determination of trade secrets. (Air Philippines Corporation v. Pennswell, Inc. [2007], supra.)

2. Modes of commission

The following are the modes of committing the offense:

1) Revealing industrial secrets

a. Mode 1: Revelation of secrets

Elements of revelation of secrets:

1) That the offender is in charge, employee or workman of any manufacturing or industrial establishment; and

2) That the offender reveals the secrets of the manufacturing or industrial establishment; and

3) That it causes prejudice to the owner thereof. (REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 292)

1) Element 1: In-charge, employee, workman

For the 1st offense, in relation to a manufacturing or industrial establishment, the offender is either:

1) In charge;

2) An employee; or

3) A workman.

NB: The offenders are limited only to those specifically identified.

2) Element 2: Revelation of secrets

For the 2nd element, the offender reveals the secrets of the manufacturing or industrial establishment.

3) Element 3: Prejudice

For the 3rd element, such revelation of secrete causes prejudice to the owner.

The prejudice may come in various forms, such as monetary and non-monetary damage such as reputation harm or breach of contract.

3. Things to note

The following are some additional things to note about this offense.

a. Zone of privacy

Zones of privacy are likewise recognized and protected in our laws. The Civil Code provides that “[e]very person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons” and punishes as actionable torts several acts by a person of meddling and prying into the privacy of another. It also holds a public officer or employee or any private individual liable for damages for any violation of the rights and liberties of another person, 36 and recognizes the privacy of letters and other private communications. The Revised Penal Code makes a crime the violation of secrets by an officer, the revelation of trade and industrial secrets, and trespass to dwelling. Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act and the Intellectual Property Code.  The Rules of Court on privileged communication likewise recognize the privacy of certain information. (Ople v. Torres, En Banc, G.R. No. 127685, July 23, 1998, Per Puno, J.; See also Ejercito v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 157294-95, November 30, 2006, Per Carpio Morales, J.)

References

Title IX – Crimes Against Personal Liberty and Security, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code, as amended

/Updated: November 22, 2023

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