The Trade Secrets (Enforcement, etc.) Regulations 2018 (the “Regulations”) are intended to be in force by 9 June 2018 to transpose Directive (EU) 2016/943 (the “Directive”) into UK law. The UK IPO is in the process of consulting on the proposed Regulations.
- The UK already has well-developed legal protection for trade secrets (either in common law, statute or by means of court rules), therefore the Directive does not require substantial changes to be made to UK law.
- Changes mainly concern limitation periods, procedural issues for the courts when hearing cases on breach of confidence in relation to trade secrets and certain remedies.
- Although the EU has largely adopted UK law concepts the changes will be more radical in some other EU jurisdictions. The aim of the Directive is to create a level playing field for enforcement by harmonising this area of law.
- Certain provisions of the language proposed for the Regulations differ from that used in the Directive. In addition, it is proposed that some parts of the Directive will not be transposed and it is not clear why this is the case. If this approach is adopted, it may lead to a lack of clarity in the UK law on trade secrets.
- Greater protection for a business trade secrets and a common approach to enforcement is to be welcomed across the EU. Trade secrets are increasingly important in protecting valuable information and technology, especially where the other forms of IP protection like patents may not be available or appropriate.
Read more on the proposed regulations on trade secrets.