Safeguarding secrets when employees leave

By Bernhard Schörghuber, Rainer Schultes, Anja Lunze, Dr Manja Epping and Saufung Ma

Life sciences companies innovate rapidly and many of their employees, who drive the research and development on which these businesses are built, are necessarily party to commercially sensitive technical and commercial information. Employees are now also very mobile. Hence disputes often arise when former employees use information for their new employer that they have learnt at their previous company. The situation is exacerbated when the business operates across national boundaries, because although the European Commission has recently proposed a directive for the harmonisation of trade secrets law across the member states, no such consistency of approach currently exists. Businesses therefore have little certainty when sharing information under terms of confidence. In this article, our lawyers from Austria, Germany and the UK explain their respective national approaches to the issue of ex-employees in possession of trade secrets.

Under Austrian law, there is no specific definition of a trade secret, even though the term ‘trade secret’ (Geschäftsgeheimnis) appears in several laws. According to the majority opinion among Austrian scholars, a trade secret is defined as a fact and/or knowledge of an economic and commercial nature…

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Taylor Wessing briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.  

Briefings from Taylor Wessing

  • Ratchet structures

    A ratchet is a structure whereby the eventual equity allocations between the shareholders depend on future performance of the company or the rate of return achieved by the venture capital firm.

  • Protective provisions and consent rights (class rights)

    The venture capital investors in an investment round normally require that certain actions cannot be taken without the consent of the holders of a majority of their class or series of shares.

View more briefings from Taylor Wessing

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • singapore orchid

    Singapore: Cash course

    The city-state is working hard to become a global wealth management hub, and law firms are gearing up for a prosperous new world

  • Money 317

    Crunch boom

    Financial disputes are starting to dominate the English courts as the long-awaited fallout from the downturn finally comes to town

View more analysis from The Lawyer


5 New Street Square

Turnover (£m): 228.00
No. of Lawyers: 860
No. of Lawyers (Asia Pacific): 79
Offices (Asia Pacific): 3