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This chapter studies breach of confidence. In the United Kingdom, the area of breach of confidence has traditionally been used to protect ideas and information, including trade secrets. The doctrine of breach of confidence is judge-made law, rooted in equitable principles. In consequence, it has developed in a piecemeal, and sometimes contradictory fashion, so that the rationale for the action has not always been clear. Nevertheless, the law of confidence is broad enough in the United Kingdom to encompass: the common definition of a trade secret (commercial, usually technical information); personal, private information which may also have a commercial value (including information which may be protected under the right to privacy under Art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)); and information protected by the state. The chapter then looks at the role of trade secrets in intellectual property law and considers the EU Trade Secrets Directive.

Chapter

Justine Pila and Paul L.C. Torremans

This chapter deals with the legal protection of trade secrets. Traditionally, trade secret protection was left to the national laws of Member States. These national regimes are rooted firmly in existing legal rules in the areas of unfair competition, tort, or breach of confidence. And there is also the “Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use, and disclosure”. The Directive seeks to impose on Member States a minimal form of harmonization and uniformity. It does not impose a (Community) right in relation to a trade secret, but it works with a common basic definition of a trade secret, the principle that there needs to be redress for the unlawful acquisition, use, or disclosure of a trade secret, and a catalogue of measures and remedies.

Chapter

L. Bently, B. Sherman, D. Gangjee, and P. Johnson

This chapter examines the defences available where a duty of confidence has been breached. It begins by considering the scope of the obligation that must be ascertained to determine whether the duty of confidence has been breached. It then discusses three factors for a breach of confidence to occur: derivation, the defendant’s state of mind, and whether the breach has caused damage. It also tackles secondary liability for breach of confidence before concluding with an examination of the Trade Secrets Directive.

Chapter

All books in this flagship series contain carefully selected substantial extracts from key cases, legislation, and academic debate, providing able students with a stand-alone resource. This chapter focuses on the action for breach of confidence as it relates to commercial secrets. It first considers the jurisdictional basis of the action for breach of confidence and then discusses the elements for establishing a breach of confidence. The first element is that there must be confidential information; the second element is that the defendant comes under an obligation of confidence; the third element of a breach of confidence requires an unauthorized use of the information to the detriment of the person communicating it. The chapter also reviews the main confidentiality obligations that apply to employees and ex-employees with regards to commercial secrets. Finally, the chapter considers UK implementation of the Trade Secrets Directive and its relationship to breach of confidence.