Enforcement Regulations set to Provide Protection to Trade Secrets

Following its introduction on 9th June 2018, there is now legislation in place to protect trade secrets within the UK, with trade secrets regulations bringing the EU Trade Secrets Directive into force.

A trade secret relates to intellectual property, protecting key information possessed by a business, such as their secret recipes or way of developing something. Trade secrets, however, haven’t previously been regarded as highly as patents or trademarks, but the new regulations are set to help with this.

The new legislation now sets out a clear outline of what can be considered as a trade secret, with the idea being that a trade secret is secret information that has commercial value to the business and only known by those dealing with the said secret. As well as this, those in control of the trade secrets must by law have taken the required action to maintain the secrecy of the trade secrets. Such protection covers the whole of the EU, and although the UK already operate with a certain level of protection, the new regulations are set to create a better system for the UK to abide by.

The Introduction of the Trade Secrets Regulations

The newly introduced regulations now mean that the courts are able to prevent trade secrets from being unlawfully used or obtained, whilst also being able to order the secrecy of them when they are part of a public court case. Those responsible for the trade secrets must apply for this form of order, in order to prevent the trade secrets from being relayed to the court, with the court then needing to agree with them that the claimed ‘trade secrets’ are indeed legitimate. In addition, the court is able to determine access to certain information, with the need for a fair trial and an effective outcome forming part of their decision.

The regulations mean that there is a level of guidance and assurance for the protection of trade secrets, encouraging courts to make the correct decisions in terms of preventing the disclosure of trade secrets. They also provide the courts with power to act on infringing goods, with the seizure and delivery of goods both a part of this, whilst also including guidance regarding evidence for interim orders.

What the Regulations mean for the Future

It isn’t thought that the introduction of the regulations is likely to have much of an impact in terms of changes to UK employment law or how trade secrets are protected; it does mean that the justice system is provided with more guidance and support. Whilst there may currently be a certain level of confusion or reluctance in the decision making of what is considered as a trade secret, the guidance set by the introduction of the regulations inevitably means that it will all be made much clearer.

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