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Trade Secrets and Confidential Business Information

The Council of the European Union takes position on the trade secrets draft-Directive – 26.05.2014

On 26 May 2014 the ministers at the Competitiveness Council agreed on a general approach relative to the proposal of the Commission for a Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure.

Commission proposes rules to help protect against the theft of confidential business information – 28.11.2013

The draft directive proposed by the Commission introduces a common definition of trade secrets, as well as means through which victims of trade secret misappropriation can obtain redress. It will make it easier for national courts to deal with the misappropriation of confidential business information, to remove the trade secret infringing products from the market and make it easier for victims to receive damages for illegal actions.

Study on trade secrets and confidential business information in the internal market – 11.07.2013

Following an invitation to tender published on 31/08/2011, the services of the European Commission contracted the law firm Baker & McKenzie to carry out a study on the role of trade secrets and confidential business information as possible drivers for innovation, competitiveness and economic growth in the EU. This study incorporates a survey covering 537 companies, including 323 small and medium size companies (less than 250 employees) undertaken at the end of 2012. It also provides a detailed review of the legal frameworks governing trade secrets in the then 27 Member States, the United States of America, Japan and Switzerland.

Public consultation on the protection against misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential business information – 11.12.2012

The services of the European Commission carried out an interactive on-line consultation on the protection against misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential business information. The consultation took place from 11/12/2012 till 08/03/2013 and gathered the views of 386 respondents, including companies, citizens, professionals, business organisations, etc.

The consultation focused on the perception and use of trade secrets, the assessment of national legal regimes and the enforcement of trade secrets, in particular in a cross-border context, and opinions regarding potential action at EU level to improve the protection of trade secrets against misappropriation within the Union.

Conference on trade secrets – 29.06.2012

A Commission Conference entitled “Trade Secrets: Supporting Innovation, Protecting Know-how” took place on Friday 29th June 2012 in Brussels.

The Conference addressed the pressing challenge of protecting European companies from acts of dishonest misappropriation of their know-how and other strategic business information. The conference looked at the legal protection of trade secrets and confidential business information, the economic rationale behind it, as well as the role and importance of trade secrets in innovation and competitiveness. The Conference provided a fruitful dialogue with stakeholders on possible policy options. It also served as a preparatory step in the launching of a survey on the topic.

The EU survey on the use of trade secrets and their protection against misappropriation will be launched in October 2012. It will be carried out by Baker & McKenzie (Milan), which will contact over 700 companies in different Member States. In addition companies and business organisations wishing to participate may do so directly. The Commission will make available a link on this web-site allowing stakeholders to participate in the survey.

Conference documents: