Towards Legalized Corporate Secrecy in the European Union?

How industry, law firms and the European Commission worked together on EU “trade secrets” legislation – a threat to consumers, journalists, whistleblowers, researchers and workers.

Summary:

This report (pdf version) is based on the analysis of hundreds of documents, [1] obtained through an access to documents request, exchanged between the European Commission’s DG Internal Market and the main corporate lobby groups involved in the development of the EU’s draft legislation on so-called “trade secrets”.

Industry’s main message throughout the process has been that trade secret theft is a major threat to the EU economy that demands a legislative initiative to improve and harmonise rules on the matter. Industry’s recommended approach for this was to define trade secrets as a form of intellectual property (IP).

From the very beginning the Commission took a strong interest in the idea and went on to collect the evidence it needed to demonstrate that legal “fragmentation” and trade secret theft would, indeed, be a threat.

But it outsourced the research to law firms that have a structural interest in the development of new legal protection tools for their corporate clients. In the end, industry and the Commission acted together, working hand in hand on the methodology of the very evidence collection for the research, jointly organising a “Commission conference on trade secrets”, even coordinating media outreach on one occasion.

 

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