Last reviewed
Approach to implementation 
Belgium 26.09.2018

Before the implementation of the Trade Secrets Directive (TSD) in Belgium, the theft and illegal use of trade secrets were dealt with in three different areas of Belgian law: criminal law, the law relating to employment agreements and case law relating to unfair trade practices.

The Belgian process of implementation of the TSD was conducted via the Belgian Government who proposed a Bill to the Belgian Parliament. That Bill did not propose changes to the current criminal law or create a new type of intellectual property right. However, it would introduce a specific chapter regarding the protection of trade secrets into the Code of Economic Law. It would also create a specific cause of action arising from the unlawful obtaining, use and dissemination of a trade secret, that will be conducted via a so-called "fast track action" whereby the court rules on the merits in an accelerated action but can only issue an injunction, and not damages. Belgian law relating to employment agreements would also be amended to include the definition of a trade secret as contained in the TSD.

Czech Republic 21.05.2018 The protection of trade secrets is enshrined in the Czech Civil Code, under which the violation of trade secrets is considered to be an act of unfair competition. According to the legislator, the Czech legal system had been, with minor exceptions, in compliance with the majority of the Trade Secrets Directive (TSD) prior to its transposition. Nevertheless, to fully transpose the Directive some of the injunctions, corrective measures, conditions of application, safeguards and alternative measures had to be integrated into national legislation, in particular in the Act on Enforcement of Industrial Property Rights ("Act on EIP"). The transposition introduced only one additional provision, comprising three subsections, to the Act on EIP.
Denmark 26.09.2018 Trade secrets were previously protected in the Marketing Act and in other laws, but as a consequence of the Trade Secrets Directive (TSD), the rules have largely been compiled into one law, the Trade Secrets Act. The Act represents a 'close to the text' implementation of the TSD and it does not contain rules that go further than the TSD.
Finland 26.09.2018 In Finland the protection of trade secrets has been very criminal law focused during recent decades. In the future criminal law will continue to have a big role in trade secrets protection. Amongst other things, this means that it is much easier to get the needed proof of infringement. As part of the implementation of the Trade Secrets Directive (TSD), Finland has issued a new Trade Secret Law, which includes the regulations in the TSD as well as some additional regulations relating to trade secrets. After the introduction of the new law the civil protection and remedies will also be an important part of the trade secret holder's tool kit.
France 26.09.2018 Before the implementation of the EU Trade Secrets Directive (TSD), no specific protection to trade secrets was provided under French law. Therefore, the implementation of the TSD implied the adoption of a completely new legal regime. The French legislator implemented most of the provisions of the TSD and intended (approximatively) to respect the deadline imposed by the EU authorities and submitted a bill to the French Parliament.

The new Trade Secret Act is very close to the provisions of the TSD, without any important French specificities in the very few areas where the member States enjoy a sphere of flexibility, except perhaps the introduction of a civil fine to punish dilatory/abusive actions, whereas the TSD only provided for the possibility to impose sanctions in such cases without defining them.
Germany 26.09.2018 To some extent existing provisions of German law already cover the issues addressed by the Trade Secret Directive (TSD): Section 17 of the German Act of Unfair Competition protection protects against unlawful disclosure of trade and industrial secrets. Additionally, the German Civil Code grants protection of trade secrets pursuant to Sections 823 and 826 in conjunction with Section 1004. However, as the existing rules do not fulfil all the requirements of the TSD, more specific civil law implementation is necessary in order to provide the required level of legal certainty for those owning trade secrets.
Hungary  26.09.2018 The Hungarian legal provisions in relation to trade secrets were not coherent. Trade secrets and know-how were defined in the Hungarian Civil Code [Art 2:47 of Act 5 of 2013] as rights relating to personality. The Hungarian Criminal Code [Art 418 of Act 100 of 2012] punishes those who illegally acquire, use, disclose, publish trade secret or make it available to others (for financial gain or advantage or causing pecuniary injury to others). The Data Protection Act [Act 112 of 2011] also contains an exhaustive list which secrets cannot be categorized as trade secret. The Labour Code [Act 1 of 2012], the Unfair Market Practices Act [Act 57 of 1996] and the Public Procurement Act [Act 143 of 2015] also contained provisions relating to trade secrets.

In order to implement the Trade Secrets Directive, the Government elaborated a draft bill on the protection of trade secret (“Trade Secret Act”). The new Trade Secret Act contains the general provisions on trade secrets including the definition of trade secret, the right to trade secret, the exceptions, the violation of the right to trade secret and sanctions. Furthermore, it contains the special rules of the civil proceedings on unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secret. Lastly, the Trade Secret Act modifes several other acts which refer to trade secret.
Italy 26.09.2018 Italian law considers trade secrets from different perspectives. Trade secrets, i.e. information meeting the requirements set by Art. 98 - 99 of the Intellectual Property Code, are proper Intellectual Property rights and, as such, benefit from the relevant judiciary relief. Additionally, trade secrets may be protected through unfair competition (Art. 2598 of the Civil Code) (which protect trade secrets and non-secret know how). Moreover, the employees' duty of loyalty and confidentiality must be considered (Art. 2105 of the Civil Code). Finally, the criminal relief set forth by Art. 621 - 623 of the Criminal Code and contractual provisions agreed between the parties may be relevant. In the light of the above, the Italian system has traditionally been considered quite advanced in this regard. Therefore, the Italian legislator decided to implement the Trade Secrets Directive (TSD) only partially, by amending some articles of the Intellectual Property Code and of the Criminal Code.
Netherlands 21.05.2019 The implementation has been done by means of a special statutory law, the Law on the Protection of Trade Secrets (Wet bescherming bedrijfsgeheimen), which entered into force on 23 October 2018. It also contains some changes to the Civil Code (on the statute of limitations) and to the Code of Civil Procedure (for procedural aspects).
Poland 26.09.2018 Trade secrets have been protected in Poland since the 1920s, with violating a trade secret traditionally considered an act of unfair competition (a type of a civil wrong). This approach will not change with the implementation of the Directive. The Polish government intends to amend the Act on Combatting Unfair Competition to address the issues covered in the Directive while leaving the basic framework of protection intact.

In general, trade secrets have been protected in Slovakia by the Slovak Commercial Code (Act no. 513/1991 Coll. as amended). The Slovak legislator therefore did not introduce a new law on trade secrets but rather decided to implement the Trade Secrets Directive by amending the existing set of laws. The implementing measures clarify what an infringement of a trade secret is, widen its scope and specify further protection.

Spain 06.02.2019

The implementation has been done by means of a new special statutory law that has been approved by the Senate on 6 February 2019.

Until the New Law enters into force, trade secret infringement is ruled in the Spanish Unfair Competition Act (Article 13) and there are several rules to protect trade secrets in the framework of Spanish civil and criminal judicial procedures.

In addition, the Spanish Criminal Code foresees criminal relief for the most serious trade secrets infringements (Articles 278 and 279 of the Criminal Code). This will not be modified with the implementation of the Directive.


Since 1990, Sweden has had an Act on Protection of Trade Secrets, which provides protection against the unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of trade secrets. The 1990 Act already met most of the requirements of the Directive.

However, in order to implement the Directive, a number of legislative changes will be made. This will be done mainly through the replacement of the 1990 Act with a new Act on Trade Secrets. Changes will also be made to the Code of Judicial Procedure, to the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act, and to the Act on Measures to Prevent Certain Particularly Serious Crimes.

UK 26.09.2018
The law of confidence in the UK already covers trade secrets, and provides protection against their unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure (including the preservation of confidentiality during legal proceedings), and hence satisfies many of the standards of protection provided in the Directive. However, the UK Government believes that it is necessary to implement a number of provisions of the Directive by way of secondary legislation, in order to cover certain perceived gaps and to ensure transparency and consistency across the UK's legal jurisdictions (in particular as the current position is not harmonised between England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). In practice, this has resulted in a significant number of the provisions of the Directive being transposed directly into the implementing legislation.