New rules for protecting trade secrets

The European Commission proposed new rules on the protection of undisclosed know-how and trade secrets against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. The draft directive aims to protect businesses and research bodies across the EU and to encourage researchers and innovators.

Trade secrets do not offer exclusivity. Undisclosed information is legally protected only in instances where confidential information was obtained unlawfully. Considering that existing national rules provide an uneven level of protection across the EU of trade secrets, the objective of the initiative is to improve the effectiveness of the legal protection of trade secrets against misappropriation throughout the Internal Market.

The implementation of a new harmonized system of trade secret protection shall reduce the risks faced by companies which are vulnerable to theft of research information and knowledge. The draft directive introduces a common definition of trade secrets, as well as legal mechanisms of redress against unlawful appropriation of trade secrets, know-how and other valuable data.

In order for the draft directive to be adopted, the Commission’s proposal will be transmitted to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The draft directive can be read in full at