Immaterialgüter- und Wettbewerbsrecht

Harmonisation of Trade Secrets: Requirements for the Protection in the EU

The Thesis examines the legal framework for the protection of trade secrets in three European jurisdictions. On the basis of this analysis, the Dissertation aims at identifying a common ground that would allow further harmonisation of the secrecy requirement at the EU level.

Letzte Änderung: 01.12.13

The system for the protection of trade secrets has not yet been harmonised within the European Union, unlike other areas of Intellectual Property or Unfair Competition Law. Even though all Member States afford some level of protection, the manner and certainty provided by the different national regimes vary substantially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Thus, the inconsistencies across the different Member States on the subject matter of protection, the scope of trade secrets and the remedies available in case of misappropriation have led to a high degree of legal uncertainty, which hampers the good functioning of the Internal Market. On this basis, the European Commission has recently issued a proposal in order to harmonise the legislation on trade secrets across the 28 Member States.

In light of the above, the Dissertation looks into the legal framework of three selected European jurisdictions, i.e. Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. These countries illustrate the three main systems that most Member States follow in order to protect trade secrets, with some exceptions and variations, and they are used as case-studies for answering the Dissertation’s research questions. Against this background the Commission's proposal is also critically considered.

In the first place, the project examines whether, based on the study of the above mentioned jurisdictions, it is possible to find a common ground that would allow harmonising the secrecy requirement further. It then analyses if a specific existing model should be implemented, or instead it would be more appropriate to create a new standard of secrecy, including one that is adequate in today's changing digital environment. Finally, the Dissertation looks into the functionality of the secrecy requirement within the legal framework for the protection of trade secrets.



Teresa Trallero Ocaña


Zielsetzungen der Europäischen Union