Trading within Europe is crucial for many businesses in meeting the needs of clients and customers. However many have experienced challenges in protecting their intellectual property, namely trade secrets, across a fragmented market.
The Council of the European Union has proposed a new framework for the protection of trade secrets. This new legislation arises to promote improved standards of fair competition and adequate trade secret enforcement to allow an innovative business environment to flourish.
If approved, we could see this proposed directive in force by the end of 2014.
What does this mean for businesses?
It will become easier for victims of trade secret theft and misuse to receive compensation for the illegal activities of the appropriators. Issues of confidentiality will be addressed, as trade secrets will remain confidential in legal proceedings on order to protect the interests of the claimant. Additionally, to make it easier for national courts to handle wrongful use of confidential commercial knowledge, the “common principles, definition (s) and safeguards” used across Europe will be brought toward mirroring international standards. Of arguably greatest importance to businesses is the principle introduced by the directive that any goods produced through the use of misappropriated trade secrets will be considered to be infringing the trade secret.
Why is this important?
The current UK legislation does not explicitly safeguard trade secrets in the way that the proposed directive will. These changes in the European legislative landscape will allow businesses who wish to expand their commercial activities across Europe to do so with adequate protection of their confidential information.