In context

Proposed European rules protect trade secrets – good news

January 9, 2014
In context

The European Commission has proposed new rules on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets). These new rules aim to protect against unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets.

The European Commission draft directive  introduces, inter alia, a common definition of trade secrets, a framework of circumstances under which the acquisition of trade secrets is considered unlawful, as well as rules relating to obtaining redress for misappropriated trade secrets. The directive is expected to enable national courts to handle misappropriation of confidential business information more easily, remove trade secret infringing products from the market and facilitate victims receiving damages for illegal actions.


Beside the specific definitions, the draft directive provides mainly for a system of minimum harmonisation, aiming to create a higher level of protection against trade secret infringements, while at the same time leaving room for local implementation.


The motivation for the directive stems from the notion that the current system negatively affects cross-border cooperation and impedes innovation and economic growth within the single market of the EU. Therefore, the harmonisation of the trade secret protection system intends to give businesses and researchers a safer environment in which they can create, share and license valuable know-how and technology within the EU. In addition, the proposal aims to facilitate the engagement of companies and researchers from different EU countries in common and collaborative projects for innovation and research.


The proposal is still subject to being adopted by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Nevertheless, it is worth taking note of the development as it provides an indication of what could be expected for the protection of trade secrets.


For more information see also the Legal Alert of 28 November 2013.

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