After a lengthy passage, the EU Trade Secrets Directive finally received the approval of the European Parliament on 15 April 2016. The proposed text stemmed from a joint initiative with the Council and it is therefore to be expected that the Council will formally adopt it in the month of May, although the term for transposition into the laws of the Member States is two years.
The approval of the Directive has not received much coverage, as it coincided with the Data Protection Regulation which appears to arouse far greater interest. Thus, although the Directive is crucial for the promotion and defence of innovation in Europe, it seems in the end to have warranted lesser attention.
And yet the poor Directive had already come in for scrutiny and criticism on the part of a range of institutions and organizations and from various social and economic quarters. I refer to the media clamour created some months ago when some sectors of the press voiced the opinion that the directive could be a means of curtailing freedom of expression, while the trade unions in turn believed that workers’ rights were in jeopardy. Governmental groups subsequently joined in, claiming reasons of state.
Thus, some issues which initially had neither prompted debate nor had appeared relevant were made crucial. So, through an operation intended to satisfy all parties, the directive underwent a kind of cosmetic surgery, entailing the legislative equivalent of Botox injections and implants, to make it more attractive.
At some other time, perhaps, we may discuss the need for that operation, but at present I consider it more interesting to focus on the key aspects from the standpoint of the protection of innovative efforts. Thus, briefly, the salient points of the Directive are the following: