October 28
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The Harmonization and Protection of Trade Secrets in the EU. An Appraisal of the EU Directive

Jens Schovsbo, Timo Minssen and Thomas Riis (Eds.)

review by

Davide Arcidiacano

The adoption of the EU Trade Secrets Directive 2016/943 reflects the ever increasing importance that trade secrets protection has gained internationally. More and more attention has been devoted by scholars and practitioners around the globe to the protection of the so-called ‘trade secrets’. On one hand trade secrets protection has been viewed as a flexible tool that offers protection to know-how and business information that cannot be protected by other intellectual property rights, on the other hand the protection can in principle last in perpetuity while the other intellectual property rights expire after a certain period of time. The trend can be traced back to the provisions of Article 39 of the TRIPS Agreement that provide for a definition and mandate a minimum level of uniform protection, at the same time allowing a considerable room for manoeuvre to the Members States that, as a result, have embraced different regulatory approaches ever since. A striking diversity of legal approaches can be observed among the EU Member States as well. Some EU States resorted to unfair competition laws or other general sets of rules while others (Italy and Nordic countries, in particular) adopted specific Acts. The legal landscape in the EU Member States has changed with the introduction of the Trade Secrets Directive that certainly provides for a harmonised legal framework, but not a uniform regulation, at EU level, thus raising the issue of the room for manoeuvre available for the Member States which, as a matter of fact, may also prefer to not adopt specific rules and simply relying on existing ones.

The book covers a broad range of areas and is divided into parts. The first part sets out the general framework of the Directive and its background also taking into account the US law on trade secrets. The second part deals with the implementation of the Directive in some national legal systems (Nordic countries, Germany, UK, Spain and Portugal) highlighting the important differences that remain between the existing domestic laws and some of the provisions of the Directive. The third part turns to some of the most thorny issues raised – and left unsolved – by the Directive in the areas of employee mobility, choice of law, enforcement and data transfer. The last part of the book focuses on specific technical fields which are affected by application of the Directive with a particular attention given to various areas of medical applications.

The book is a very welcome piece of legal literature both for scholars and practitioners not only for the high quality of the contributions but also for the overall design of the book which draws a comprehensive picture of the issues raised by the implementation of the Directive trying to offer the proper legal solutions to some of them.


Dr Davide Arcidiacono is Senior Lecturer of Commercial Law in the Law Department of the University of Catania. His research focuses on intellectual property rights as well as both company and insolvency laws.


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