Harmonisation of law on trade secrets is ‘step in the right direction’, says Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells partner Sarah Turner has commented following the news that the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a directive to protect trade secrets and confidential business information against misuse by third parties.

The directive will reform the law of trade secrets across the European Union and is designed to harmonise the law and how it is enforced across all 28 member states.

Turner said: ‘Harmonisation of the law on trade secrets has been a long time coming — the law across Europe as it currently stands is a patchwork and is often inadequate. The proposal is definitely a step in the right direction although there are still some noticeable gaps.

‘For example, trade secret holders often face considerable difficulties in obtaining evidence of misuse and damage. If the necessary evidence cannot be obtained then legal action may not get off the ground. The current proposal does not introduce procedures to address this issue.’

Nevertheless, Turner described the changes as ‘very welcome’ and said that they appear to support the European Commission’s general desire to ensure respect for intellectual property and related rights.

She continued: ‘Hopefully this attempt to harmonise the law will mean that Europe is in a better place to compete with countries such as the US where trade secrets are recognised as an important business asset and are protected by the law accordingly.’