Studies look at trade secrets and parasitic copying
By Sophie Mosca | Friday 13 January 2012
The level of protection granted with respect to trade secrets and parasitic copying varies from one member state to another and the pertinence of member states’ current legal framework in the EU is problematic. Such is the conclusion of two studies published by the European Commission, on 13 January.
The first study focuses on the legal protection of trade secrets (often referred to as confidential business information) and lists the existing national frameworks. The study highlights the increasing need for more effective protection – in particular because of the advent of the ‘information society’, the growth in outsourcing of manufacturing, the ease with which large quantities of documents and data can be copied, downloaded, stored and transmitted, etc. The study also reports on the different means of redress against misappropriation established by national legislations. The aim is to evaluate what pertinent harmonisation could be envisaged at EU level.
The second study concerns unfair competition practices of those responsible for the commercialisation of ‘parasitic copies’, ‘look-alikes’ or ‘slavish imitations’ – designed to resemble or look like pre-existing products of well-established brands and which take advantage of the reputation and of the legal protection of the products copied. These practices lead European consumers to associate or confuse the two competing products and divert sales – to the detriment of duly protected and certified products. The study provides the basis for a reflection on the adequacy of the current legal framework throughout the EU, which should offer better protection for companies suffering large losses from these illegal practices as well as allowing them to react more efficiently.