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Trade Secrets

Definition : Trade Secrets

Trade secrets means information whether technical, commercial or financial, which is held by a company and which has economic value because of its confidential nature. Trade secrets can include information on products, services, manufacturing techniques, sales methods, processes, business strategies, financial data, business plans and other sensitive information. In short, a trade secret is confidential information of any kind (commercial, know-how, etc.).

Protecting trade secrets is essential for companies to maintain their competitive edge in the marketplace. Companies can protect their trade secrets by adopting internal policies to protect the confidentiality of information, by using confidentiality agreements with employees, subcontractors and business partners, and by taking legal action against those who infringe their intellectual property rights. Trade secrets are often considered a form of intellectual property, although they are not legally protected in the same way as patents, trademarks or copyrights. Instead, trade secrets are generally protected by contract law and unfair competition law, which prohibit the unauthorized disclosure and use of trade secrets by third parties. However, it is important to bear in mind the interaction between a seizure for infringement of intellectual property rights and trade secrets. In the latter case, it is advisable to involve a seizure-infringement lawyer.

In 2016, the European Union adopted a directive on the protection of trade secrets, which establishes uniform rules for the protection of trade secrets in all EU member states. The directive defines Trade secrets as information that meets certain conditions, including that it is secret, that it has commercial value by virtue of its confidentiality, and that it has been the subject of reasonable measures to protect its confidentiality. In France, since the 2018 law and its implementing decree, which transpose the aforementioned directive, its protection is subject to three conditions: that it is not readily accessible to persons in the sector of activity in question, that it has been the subject of reasonable protective measures, and that it represents a commercial value deriving from its secret nature.

Trade secrets attorneys play an important role in protecting trade secrets, advising companies on the legal and strategic measures they can take to protect their trade secrets, and representing companies in trade secrets litigation