News & Positions - November 2013

Can you keep a trade secret?

AIM supports the legislative proposal on the protection of undisclosed know how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure, unveiled by the European Commission on 28 November.

European brands manufacturers are a backbone of the knowledge economy. They face constantly the threat of industrial espionage or confidential information misuse, which would harm their capacity to innovate. This situation is sometimes more alarming for SMEs as they may not protect as efficiently their brands through trade marks, designs or patents. According to a recent survey commissioned by the European Commission, one in five companies has suffered at least one attempt to steal its trade secrets in the last ten years.

The European Commission carried out two studies in January 2012 and in May 2013. The authors of the study highlighted the fragmented and diversified nature of the legal protection of trade secrets across the EU, which resulted in unnecessary cost and risks. Therefore, they recommended the harmonisation of trade secret law in the EU to create a legal environment favourable to innovation and innovative cross-border activities.

AIM contributed to the consultation and supports the measures proposed by the European Commission, which strike the right balance between competition and the protection of innovation:

  • a common definition of trade secrets.
  • a sufficient and comparable level of redress across the Internal Market in case of trade secret misappropriation while providing sufficient safeguards to prevent abusive behaviour by the trade secret holder.
  • rules on the preservation of the confidentiality of trade secrets during and after litigation.
  • sanctions in case of infringement, including the awarding of damages for the prejudice suffered.

The Commission’s proposal on the protection against misappropriation of trade secrets will be transmitted to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure. AIM is looking forward to working with the legislators on this issue.

Link to the proposal.

Link to the press release of the European Commission.