Know-how protection and trade secrets
The protection of know-how and trade and business secrets is of enormous economic importance for many companies. Knowledge and trade secrets that are not protected by intellectual property rights such as trademark law, design law, copyright law or patent law require special measures to protect them from access by third parties. Thus, the know-how and trade secrets of companies can be of great interest to competitors, customers, subcontractors and others. In many cases, (former) employees of the company are then approached in order to obtain this information.
While trade and business secrets were protected by competition law under the former legal regime, the legal situation has changed since June 2018 at the latest. Thus, the EU Directive (EU) 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure was already passed on 08.06.2016. Its implementation deadline ended on 08.06.2018, so that since this date at the latest, the rules of the Directive for the protection of know-how and trade secrets must be used in the interpretation of national regulations. Finally, on 26.04.2019, the German Act on the Protection of Trade Secrets (GeschGehG) came into force in Germany as an implementation of the Know-How Protection Directive into national law.
According to the current legal system, a trade secret is information that is not generally known or accessible to the relevant circles, either in its entirety or in its precise arrangement, and is therefore of economic value, and which is protected by the owner by appropriate secrecy measures and in which there is a legitimate interest in keeping it secret.
In order to protect their know-how and trade secrets, companies therefore have to prove that appropriate secrecy measures have been taken in the event of a dispute. Extensive secrecy protection concepts in technical, legal and organizational terms have proven effective for this purpose. Contractual safeguards in the form of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or confidential disclosure agreements (CDAs) are a key element in this regard. It is important that non-disclosure measures and their adequacy must be proven in the event of a dispute in order not to risk losing one’s own trade secrets.
We offer support to you in all matters relating to know-how protection and trade secrets in a national and international context.
Our expertise in the area of know-how protection and trade secrets
We support companies through our experienced legal and specialist attorneys by providing competent advice in the area of know-how and trade secret protection. Our activities include the development of secrecy protection concepts as well as the preparation, drafting, review and negotiation of contracts in German and English, such as confidentiality agreements and research and development contracts. In the event of claims based on the infringement of trade secrets, we represent our clients nationwide in corresponding court and arbitration proceedings.