European Commission announces proposal for a 'trade secrets' Directive

The Commission announced on 28 November 2013 a proposal for a Directive on trade secrets and confidential business information. The proposed trade secrets directive (full title: ‘Proposal for a Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure’) seeks to harmonise national laws of EU member countries by establishing:

  • common definitions of trade secrets and confidential business information and circumstances when the acquisition, use and disclosure of a trade secret is unlawful;
  • measures, procedures and remedies that should be made available to the holder of a trade secret in case of unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of that trade secret; and
  • sanctions in case of non-compliance with the measures provided and provisions on monitoring and reporting.

The proposal for a trade secrets Directive follows surveys and consultations in 2011/12 which concluded, among other things, that trade secrets effectively fill the gap between copyright and patent protection, but that the levels of protection/remedies afforded are uneven across the EU and this impacts on business decisions…

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