EU Proposes New Law on Protection of Trade Secrets

On November 28, 2013, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use, and disclosure. Trade secrets, otherwise known as “confidential business information” or “undisclosed information,” are used by a large number of companies to safeguard a wide range of different information, including, for example, such things as the manufacturing process of Michelin tires, the technology and know-how used in Airbus aircraft, and Google’s search algorithm. (Press Release, European Commission, Commission Proposes Rules to Help Protect Against the Theft of Confidential Business Information (Nov. 28, 2013).)

According to a survey, one in five companies in the European Union has been beset by at least one attempt of trade secret theft during the last ten years. In general, trade secrets do not enjoy the same legal protection as inventions, because no exclusive right applies to the confidential information. At present, some EU members have no specific law on the protection of trade secrets while others have differing rules in place.

The proposed directive is designed to harmonize common rules on trade secrets across the EU by establishing a common definition of trade secrets and to facilitate access to national courts for victims of abuse of trade secrets, in order to allow them to seek redress. Among the remedial measures available, in addition to monetary compensation, will be the removal of trade secret infringing products from the market.

The proposal will be submitted to the Council of the EU and the Parliament for review and adoption.

SOURCE:  US Library of Congress, Global Legal Monitor