»Trustworthy exchange of intellectual property in industry«

Most German companies rely on their know-how for their existence but often fail to see how attractive this knowledge is to their competitors. One in five German businesses has already been the subject of industrial espionage or has suspicions that they are being targeted. Medium-sized businesses are especially vulnerable as they are not protected against digital attacks. The annual cost of this type of industrial espionage to the German economy exceeds 50 Billion Euros.

Aims and approach

The aim of the project is to find ways of countering the digital theft of intellectual property through industrial and corporate espionage by implementing suitable organisational, technical and legal measures. On an organisational level, the project will examine how company-wide systems in networks can be protected. The knowledge gained  will be used to support the technical side as it designs a demonstrator which can control the flow of information in these networks. The “Trusted Computing “ methods of digital rights management will be incorporated in the final product.

Legal aspects of ERM

The use of ERM (Enterprise Rights Management) is already comprehensively regulated by law. The legal questions raised by ERM relate to a wide range of legal subjects such as Data Protection, Civil Tort Law, Confidentiality obligations and sector-specific requirements. One of the main challenges lies in defining the precise nature of legal obligations in relation to the prevention of access to protected data by unauthorised persons. These questions, as well as questions relating to the apportionment of risk if an attack does occur, are yet to be answered.

BMBF logoThe VERTRAG project will examine the legal questions raised by ERM, focussing on the legal regulation of risk apportionment, liability and the participants’ protection obligations.

You can download a summary of the project as a PDF here (German version only).

Project Managers

Chair of Civil Law, Legal Informatics, German and International Business Law and Legal Theory (Prof. Dr. Georg Borges)

Contact Person

Research Assistant Sonja Oleownik (E-Mail)

Project Partners

ENX Association
Sirrix AG
ecsec GmbH
Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft und Technologiemanagement
Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Lehrstuhl für Netz- und Datensicherheit

Project Duration

February 2015 – July 2018


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In the BMAS (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs) project "ExamAI" Professor Borges' chair develops concepts for auditing and certification of AI applications. Further information: ExamAI


Legal Testbed

The chair of Prof. Borges is developing solutions for Industry 4.0 through the project "Recht-Testbed Industrie 4.0" funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). More...


As part of the »INITIATIVE« project Professor Borges' team is working on AI-supported communication for autonomous vehicles in traffic. Click here to learn more...

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