a divergence in terminology and the protection regime for
confidential information in the EU. For example, in England a
trade secret is seen as a subset of confidential information
protected under contract or the common law of breach of
confidence; while in Germany confidential information is
treated as a general concept, the protection of which comes
from various statutory provisions including criminal law.
This affects cross-border research and development
activities, which often lead to innovation, and those who rely
heavily on confidential information for competitiveness. The
protection accorded to confidential information is directed at
its acquisition, disclosure and use. The cyber-attack against
Sony Pictures Entertainment is a recent example.
All this is why many
welcome the proposed
trade secrets directive which,
albeit with some fine-tuning, will harmonise the law to
provide some reassurance to businesses.
The proposed directive is awaiting the decision of the
EU parliament and is set to go before the plenary on
November 24. Its adoption and implementation is still some time
away, but now is the time to
start planning for the ramifications as well as putting
appropriate measures in place to safeguard confidential
"In the short term changes in law will be minor, but in the
long term it will be quite big as the EU Court of Justice gets
involved in its interpretation," says Anthony Trenton, one of
the speakers at a
seminar to be held this evening at the
London offices of WilmerHale.
The seminar, titled 'Protecting Confidential
Information’, will discuss the current state of
the law; the proposed
EU trade secrets directive; and cybersecurity. Trevor Cook,
Schubert and Trenton
will open the seminar with an overview of the law in England
and Germany, and a discussion on how the directive will change
law and practice in this area - issues such as dealing with
licences and employees are expected to be covered.
The session will end with Robert S.
Mueller III, a former FBI director, who will talk about the
practical measures to guard against cyber-attack and/or deal
with such attacks.
We will publish a report on the seminar later this week.