In May, 2016 the EU Parliament voted in favour of legislation to increase protection for companies against the theft or misuse of their trade secrets. The “Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure” was then published in the Official Journal of the EU on June 15th 2016, and will come into force on July 5th 2016. EU Member states will then have a two year transitional period in which to transpose the provisions into their respective national laws.

Concerns were raised with regards to possible negative impacts of the Directive, particularly with reference to journalists and free speech but the European Parliament proceeded to approve the new legislation with a landslide majority in April 2016.

Key points of the new Directive include:

  • A new, uniform definition of “trade secret”
  • A new set of rules to protect trade secrets and other confidential information held by EU companies
  • Penalties and legal procedures against any individual or entity for the unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of any trade secrets or confidential information
  • Protection for “whistle-blowers” who disclose trade secrets for the purpose of protecting the public interest
  • Rules to ensure that the rights of investigative journalists are protected and that the right to freedom of expression is retained.

These changes are expected to have a big impact on individuals, SME’s, larger companies and multinational corporations operating throughout the EU.

To understand how this Directive will affect you and what changes your business needs to make, please contact Joseph.Borg@whpartners.eu

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