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New trade secrets Directive 31/05/2016 The EU Council has adopted a Directive setting out rules for the protection of trade secrets and confidential information of EU companies.

New trade secrets Directive

The EU Council has adopted a Directive setting out rules for the protection of trade secrets and confidential information of EU companies. It follows an agreement reached with the European Parliament in December.

The Directive, which lays down common measures against the unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets, aims at ensuring a smooth functioning internal market.

It is also intended to have a deterrent effect against the illegal disclosure of trade secrets, without undermining fundamental rights and freedoms or the public interest, such as public safety, consumer protection, public health, environmental protection and mobility of workers.

The Directive sets out protection for whistle-blowers, stating that it will be up to national competent judicial authorities to judge whether the disclosure of a commercial secret was necessary to denounce a misconduct, wrongdoing or illegal activity.

The new framework also provides that member states will have to provide for the measures, procedures and remedies necessary to ensure the availability of civil redress against illegal acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets.

Trade secret holders will be entitled to apply for remedies in case of damages following cases of illegal appropriation of documents, objects, materials, substances or electronic files containing the trade secret or from which the trade secret can be deduced.

Where necessary, confidentiality of trade secrets will also be preserved during the course of and after the legal proceedings.

After publication of the Directive in the Official Journal of the EU and its entry into force, member states will have a maximum of two years to incorporate the new provisions into domestic law.

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