Legal Alerts / 29 Nov 2013

Legal Alert – Harmonization of Trade Secret Protection: European Commission Proposes a New Directive

The European Commission has proposed on 28 November 2013 that a new directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure should be adopted within European Union (see COM(2013) 813 final).

The main objective of the Commission’s initiative would be to improve the effectiveness of the legal protection of trade secrets against misappropriation within the Internal Market. Means for this objective can be read as follows in the Commission Staff Working Document:

  • ensuring adequate and comparable scope and conditions of such legal protection;
  • providing access to a sufficient and comparable level of redress in cases of misappropriation; – preserving confidentiality of trade secrets during and after litigation; and
  • deterring third parties more effectively from misappropriating and dishonestly exploiting trade secrets within the EU.

The proposal seeks to ease the process of companies claiming damages for misuse or theft of their trade secrets in national courts. The Commission’s proposal will be next transmitted to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure within European Union. The Commission’s initial assumption for the timeline is that the proposal for a Directive would be adopted by the Commission in autumn 2013 and that the adoption of the text by the European Parliament and the Council could take place by the end of 2014.

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