The process of transformation into an innovation-based economy has had a considerable impact on the intellectual property (IP) system. IP has become an integral part of innovative processes. These developments have led to changes in IP concepts. The authors argue that the notion of IP must include both legal (IP as rights) and economic (IP as an asset) aspects. The balance between different kinds of IP (copyright, related rights, industrial property) within innovation processes should be reviewed in order to acknowledge the rightful place of copyright as the core of IP and IP culture. Nevertheless, the major tools for enhancing innovation are still based on industrial property. The role of IP in different kinds of policy documents should be increased. In order to fully exploit the potential of IP, it is necessary to enhance the development of supportive infrastructure for the utilization and commercialization of IP (intellectual infrastructure). Such infrastructure should support the functioning of IP systems, identifying new knowledge and transfering knowledge from entrepreneurial universities to industry. Raising public awareness about practical aspects of IP and fostering IP competencies are of paramount importance. Teaching IP at universities and adopting university IP policies form an important part of this process. According to the vision of the authors, a basic course on IP should be taught at every university to all students. Specialized IP courses should be part of the curricula at the faculties of law, economics, engineering, biology, philosophy, etc. The authors outline the Estonian experience with regard to these issues.
Secrecy is a traditional method of knowledge protection. The protection and management of trade secrets has high strategic relevance for small transition economies. As the majority of Estonian entrepreneurs are SMEs in low-tech sectors, the implementation of adequate trade-secret protection strategy is vital. There are several advantages to trade-secret protection. First, the scope of trade-secret protection can be extensive and includes non-patentable knowledge. Second, it does not require the registration or fulfilment of any formal procedures.The Estonian high-tech sector also relies on trade-secret protection. Concentration of activities in a low- or high-tech sector only determines whether entrepreneurs combine patent and trade-secret protection or whether they are solely dependent on trade-secret protection.The enhancement of entrepreneurial skills to manage trade-secrets is crucial. Despite the high strategic relevance of trade secret protection, Estonian entrepreneurs do not, yet, seem to have the necessary capabilities to leverage trade-secret protection. A similar situation can be detected in other Baltic states. Therefore, the main focus of this article is on the exploration of how to control and utilize trade secrets in the value creation process by entrepreneurs in the Estonian legal and economic environment through appropriate economic and legal strategies and relevant legal implementation and protection measures. The authors analyze theoretical and practical issues concerning trade-secret protection, argue their own concepts and put forward several proposals.