Trade Secrets Litigation in the EU: EUIPO Report

September 13, 2018

Company News

A new report from KPMG focuses on the issue of trade secrets and how they are protected in law across the European Union, and highlights the fact that companies are hindered in their attempts to protect their secrets by variations in the legal framework between different countries.

The Baseline of Trade Secrets Litigation in the EU’ was commissioned from KPMG by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights.

The study, published 22nd August 2018, provides detailed information on all 28 EU Member States and maps out the current national legal systems protecting trade secrets, including remedies against the unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of trade secrets, as well as a comparative analysis of national case-law across Member States.

The general concern of the study is that “the current case-law of various Member State’s confirms relationships and knowledge exchanges between companies operating at EU and international levels are hindered by legal uncertainties connected to the different thresholds of trade secrets protection.”

It recommends that the laws protecting what companies know should be harmonised.  

Areas of protection that were highlighted by the study as needing particular attention were: a lack of consistency over what company secrets are; inconsistent application of the IP Enforcement Directive; weak cross-border protection; and inconsistent procedural tools. Taken together, these mean companies are often reluctant to go to court to protect their secrets.

The EUIPO study provides a background to the development of relevant legislation in Europe, differences between member states and details of how the EU Directive on Trade Secrets helps establish common definitions across EU member states, with the aim of offering legal certainty and clarity for businesses.

It is important for companies to understand these legal definitions and how to protect undisclosed know-how and business information appropriately, including recent implementation of the EU directive into UK law.

The study also contains useful examples of practical steps that have been taken by companies to keep relevant information secret.

Trade secrets are an intangible asset which almost all companies will own. Inngot offers a suite of online tools to help innovative businesses identify, manage and value Intellectual Property and intangible assets, including trade secrets.

In addition to its IP valuation tools, Inngot contributes to the international debate on how best to help SMEs in particular uncover and leverage the value locked up in their IP and intangible assets and offers bespoke IP valuation and technology valuation services.

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