Protecting Trade Secrets (Directive)

The Commission wants to harmonise the protection of trade secrets in the Member States. The proposed Directive contains, in particular, standard definitions of trade secrets and of their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure as well as possibilities for obtaining redress for any infringement.


The proposed protection of trade secrets preserves the incentive for innovation without excessively restricting the spread of new knowledge: By limiting protection to acts carried out intentionally or with gross negligence, the infringer need not check whether every piece of information is a trade secret. Permitting "reverse engineering" also contributes to the spread of new knowledge. Excluding the infringer from documents and hearings during legal proceedings is only compatible with the right to a fair trial where – by contrast with the Commission's proposal – it is guaranteed that at least the legal representative will always be granted access to documents and hearings. The proposed sanctions in the case of an unfounded claim violate additionally the right to an effective remedy.